S henpen Ö sel The Clear Light of the Buddhas Teachings Which Benefits All Beings Volume 2, Number 2 June 1998 You who have now obtained this body with its freedoms and favors, if you exert yourself one-pointedly in practicing the sublime dharma rather than letting it go to waste, it will be a noble effort, good for both this and all future lives. Therefore, may all of you keep this in mind. His Holiness Orgyen Trinley Dorje, The Seventeenth Gyalwa Karmapa, in his first message addressed to Western dharma practitioners in general and in particular to those who follow the Kamtsang tradition:

The Tantric Path and Mahamudra

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Page 1: The Tantric Path and Mahamudra

Shenpen ÖselThe Clear Light of the Buddha�s Teachings Which Benefits All Beings

Volume 2, Number 2 June 1998

�You who have now obtained this body with its freedoms and favors, if you exertyourself one-pointedly in practicing the sublime dharma rather than lettingit go to waste, it will be a noble effort, good for both this and all future lives.

Therefore, may all of you keep this in mind.�

His Holiness Orgyen Trinley Dorje, The Seventeenth Gyalwa Karmapa, in his firstmessage addressed to Western dharma practitioners in general and in particular

to those who follow the Kamtsang tradition:

Page 2: The Tantric Path and Mahamudra


Shenpen ÖselThe Clear Light of the Buddha�s Teachings Which Benefits All Beings


3 Introduction to Madhyamika Teachings

5 News of Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche�s Upcoming Visit

6 Texts taught by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso RinpocheNagarjuna�s Sixty Stanzas of Reasonings, Selected VersesGyalwa Götsangpa�s Eight Flashing LancesNagarjuna�s Seventy Stanzas on Emptiness, Selected VersesGyalwa Götsangpa�s Melody of the Eight Types of NondualityNagarjuna�s The Refutation of Criticism, Selected VersesGyalwa Götsangpa�s Seven Delights

14 Realizing the Profound Truth of Emptiness, Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche

26 The Logic That Refutes the Idea That Anything Is Truly Existent,Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche

38 Everything Is Just Appearance and Emptiness Inseparable,Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche

50 The Tantric Path and Mahamudra, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche

59 Tibetan Texts (not online edition)Nagarjuna�s Sixty Stanzas of Reasonings, Selected VersesNagarjuna�s Seventy Stanzas on Emptiness, Selected Verses

Volume 2 Number 2

Editorial policyShenpen Ösel is a tri-annual publication ofKagyu Shenpen Ösel Chöling (KSOC), a centerfor the study and practice of Tibetan vajrayanaBuddhism located in Seattle, Washington. Themagazine seeks to present the teachings ofrecognized and fully qualified lamas andteachers, with an emphasis on the ShangpaKagyu and the Karma Kagyu lineages. Thecontents are derived in large part fromtranscripts of teachings hosted by our center.Shenpen Ösel is produced and mailedexclusively through volunteer labor and doesnot make a profit. (Your subscription andsupport are greatly appreciated.) We publishwith the aspiration to present the clear light ofthe Buddha�s teachings. May it bring benefitand may all be auspicious. May all beings beinspired and assisted in uncovering their owntrue nature.


EditorLama Tashi Namgyal

Managing editorLinda Lewis

Copy editors, Transcribers,RecordersGlen Avantaggio, Peter Borodin, AlanCastle, Susan DeMattos, WolfgangHirsch, Donald Lashley, Yahm Paradox,Chris Payne, Rose Peeps, Mark Voss

PhotosRyszard K. Frackiewicz

Database managerDarren Beil

Mailing coordinatorMark Suver

Mailing crewMembers of the Seattle sangha

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When we have what seems to us much more direct ways of meditat-ing, why should we study and meditate on an analytical systemof meditation such as madhyamika?

In the practice of meditation, the actual technique that we employ isnever very difficult. Even in the very much more complicated meditativetechniques of the vajrayana, involving visualizations, mantras, mandalas,and mudras, the actual techniques are not difficult or particularly problem-atic; any intelligent seventh-grader could perform these practices as well, ifnot better, than an adult. The difficulties and problems are always simplyhow to relate properly to what arises in one�s mind when one is employingany of these meditative techniques, how to relate to the incessant discursive-ness and oftentimes intense emotional and cognitive confusion in the mindthat one�s meditation uncovers or stirs up.

In the practice of shamatha, we have the discipline of constantly return-ing to the breath or other objects of concentration, and of constantly labelingthought and emotional confusion in order to demystify it, in order to depriveit of the reality we impute to it.

In the practice of mahayana, we have the technique of exchanging selfand others, the practice of tonglen or taking and sending, and in thevajrayana, mahamudra, and dzogchen traditions we have further tech-niques for relating to mind and its confusion.

But for any of these techniques to work, there has to be the willingnessto let go of one�s thoughts and emotions, the willingness not to get involvedin and perpetuate and make a big deal of whatever particular psycho-dramaor worry or anxiety or earth-transforming schemes our minds happen to befeaturing at any particular moment. One has to be willing constantly to letgo and return to the technique, and to do this it is necessary to see one�sconfusion and one�s hopes and fears for the illusions that they are. They aremere thinking; they are not real. The power over us that they exercisederives completely from the reality that we unthinkingly give to them.

The study and practice of madhyamika reasonings is a powerful way ofcoming to see and to accept that the psycho-dramas of our lives are not realafter all. If studied properly and meditated upon, madhyamika becomes atremendous aid to letting go of all our confusion and of allowing the mindnaturally to return to a state of peace and mental health, out of which allthe positive qualities of mind are free to manifest.

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With this kind of madhyamika understanding as a foundation, thepractice of vajrayana becomes an even more powerful means of uprootingand purifying the deeper anxieties and traumas of the mind, and of finallydispelling the self-clinging, dualistic fixation, fundamental ignorance, andmental darkness that underlies all of them.

For that reason, it is often said in the vajrayana that madhyamika is theground and mahamudra the path.

* * *

We would also like to draw the reader�s attention to a question asked ofthe translator, Ari Goldfield, as to what was meant by the word substantial,as in �substantially existent� or �not substantially existent.� Ari replied:� . . . the term substantial, as in substantially existent, is a translation of theTibetan word rang bzhin, which means �by its nature,� or �by its essence.�When we say that something is substantially existent or naturally existent,essentially existent, what we mean is that it does not exist in dependence onanything else. It exists from its own side. It exists without depending onother causes and conditions.�

We draw the reader�s attention to this because the term substantial is, inother contexts, used to translate phrases such as rdzas yod and dngos po/dngos yod, both of which imply some sort of material substantiality that isnot necessarily implied by the term rang bzhin.

The term rang bzhin is also sometimes translated as �nature� or �self-nature,� as indicated by Chökyi Nyima (Richard Barron): �What I�m usingnow for rang bzhin is simply �nature,� where it has a �positive� meaning (as in�the nature of mind�), or �self-nature,� where the intention is one of negation(as in �having no self-nature� or �cannot be established to have anyself-nature�).�

* * *

Because we have been intent on keeping to our deadline, we have notbeen able to include the Tibetan texts for The Refutation of Criticism, byNagarjuna and the three songs of Götsangpa. We will try to include them in asubsequent issue of Shenpen Ösel.

�Lama Tashi Namgyal

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One of the foremost teachers of the Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, The VeryVener-

able Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, will give a series of teachings on The MahamudraSongs of Naropa in Seattle June 9 through 15. Mahamudra is the main practice of the

Kagyu path to enlightenment. Naropa�s songs, which contain profound meditation pointing-outinstructions, are very important for practitioners of mahamudra and are applicable to all otherBuddhist paths as well.

While Rinpoche is in Seattle, he will also give three empowerments: Chenrezig, Vajrasattvafrom the tradition of Marpa the Translator, and Milarepa. Thrangu Rinpoche is in great demandthroughout the world because of the clarity, profundity, and vastness of his teachings, and thegentle humor of his presentation. It is a privilege to host his teachings in Seattle.

Cost of the entire series of teachings and the three empowerments is $150. For those who canattend only on the weekend, cost of the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday teachings and one empower-ment (Vajrasattva) is $80. For more information, call (206) 632-1439.

Heart Teachings of a TibetanBuddhist Master

The Very VenerableKhenchen Thrangu Rinpocheon The Mahamudra Songs ofthe Mahasiddha Naropa

June 9, 107:30-9:30 p.m.Mahamudra Songsof NaropaKagyu Shenpen ÖselChöling (KSOC)4322 Burke Avenue NSeattle

June 117:30-10 p.m.Chenrezig EmpowermentSakya Monastery108 NW 83rd StreetSeattle

June 127:30-10 p.m.Mahamudra SongsCatherine BlaineElementary SchoolAll-purpose Room2550 34th W

SeattleJune 1310 a.m.-noonand 2:30-5 p.m.Mahamudra SongsCatherine Blaine

June 1410 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Mahamudra SongsCatherine Blaine

June 143-5:30 p.m.Vajrasattva Empowerment ofMarpa the TranslatorCatherine Blaine

June 157:30-9:30 p.m.Milarepa EmpowermentKSOC

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Selected Verses From Nagarjuna�s

Sixty Stanzas of Reasonings

I prostrate to the Mighty OneWho has taught about dependent arising,The principle by whichArising and disintegration are abandoned. (Homage)

Those whose intelligence has gone beyond existence and nonexistenceAnd who do not abide [in any extremes]Have realized the meaning of dependent arising,The profound and unobservable [truth of emptiness]. (1)

Those who see with their intelligenceThat existence is like a mirage and an illusionAre not corrupted by believing inThe extremes of earlier and later. (17)

By understanding arising, disintegration is understood.By understanding disintegration, impermanence is understood.By understanding impermanenceThe truth of the genuine dharma is realized. (22)

Without a stable focus or location,Not remaining and without root,Arisen totally as a result of ignorance,Without beginning, middle, or end . . . (26)

Without core, like a banana tree.Like an unreal city in the sky,The suffering world�the lands of confusion�Manifests in this way�like an illusion. (27)

To those students in search of suchnessAt first teachers should say, �Everything exists.�Then after they realize the meaning of this and abandon desire,They will gain perfect transcendence. (30)

Those who realize that all entities are dependently arisen,And just like a moon that appears in a pool of water,Are neither true nor false,Are not carried away by philosophical dogmas. (45)

Children are tricked by reflectionsBecause they take them to be real.In the very same way, because of their ignorance,Beings are imprisoned in the cages of their [conceptual] objects. (53)

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The great ones, who with the eyes of primordial awarenessSee that entities are just like reflections,Do not get caught in the mireOf so-called �objects.� (54)

The immature are attached to form.The moderate are free from attachment to [the sense objects],And those endowed with supreme intelligenceKnow the true nature of form and [by so knowing] are liberated. (55)

The awful ocean of existenceIs filled with the tormenting snakes of the afflictions.But those whose minds are not moved even by thoughts of voidnessHave safely crossed over [its dangers]. (59)

By the power of the virtue performed hereMay all beings perfect the accumulations of merit and wisdom,And from this merit and wisdom,May they attain the twin dimensions of genuine [enlightenment]. (60)

Under the guidance of Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, adapted by Ari Goldfield from atranslation in Nagar juna: Studies in the Writings and Philosophy of Nagar juna , ChristianLindtner, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, New Delhi, 1990, pp. 100-120. May 17, 1997.

Gyalwa Götsangpa�s

Eight Flashing Lances

Namo Ratna Guru!

Oh paragon of beings,You are the dharmakaya, treasure isle,The treasure too, sambhogakaya�s myriad forms,As nirmanakaya you fulfill the needs of wanderers,Oh precious Lord, I bow respectfully to you.

A decisive understanding of true reality,Without preference for either samsara or nirvana,Conviction reached, the mind wavers no more,These are three that render view unhindered,Like a lance that flashes free in the open sky.

Cutting through the root, it holds its own ground,The six consciousnesses are unspoiled by alteration,Free of the effort of trying to remember what to do,These are three that make meditation fully free,Like a lance flashing free in the open sky.

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Experiences are natural and unhindered,Fear, depression, and anxiety are nowhere to be found,Victory is gained over belief in duality,These are three that render conduct fully free,Like a lance that flashes free in the open sky.

Enlightenment�s five dimensions have been there all along�They directly manifest through experience.Desire for buddhahood is exhausted,These are three that make fruition fully free,Like a lance flashing free in the open sky.

Transgressions and downfalls have been pure from the beginning,Experience is clarity and emptiness without stain,Self-importance has been dispensed with,These are three that make sacred commitments fully free,Like a lance that flashes free in the open sky.

Wanting for oneself is exhausted,Love without strife flows in waves,Undaunted, tireless, unselfish too,These are three that make compassion fully free,Like a lance flashing free in the open sky.

The muddiness of clinging is clarified,Causes and conditions shine clearly like reflections,The subtle art of what and what not to do is mastered,These are three that make interdependence fully free,Like a lance that flashes free in the open sky.

Prayers of aspiration set long ago now awaken,Whatever is done is of benefit to others,Performance is effortless and natural,These three make activity unhindered,Like a lance flashing free in the open sky.

In this well-known place called White GarudaThis small melody tells of eight lances flashing freely.Borne on the waves of the excellent guru�s blessings,It appeared in the mind and now has been put to song.

Under the guidance of Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, translated in two separateversion by Tony Duff and Jim Scott. These were combined and edited by Ari Goldfield,June 17, 1997.

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Selected Verses From Nagarjuna�s

Seventy Stanzas on Emptiness

Entities do not existIn their causes, in their conditions,In aggregations of many things, or in individual things.Therefore, all entities are empty. (3)

Because it already exists, that which exists does not arise.Because it does not exist, that which does not exist does not arise.Because they contradict each other, existence and nonexistence do not

[arise] togetherSince there is no arising, there is no remaining or cessation either. (4)

Without one there are not many, andWithout many there is not one.Therefore, dependently arisen entities [like these]Have no characteristics. (7)

[In the true nature] there is neither permanence nor impermanence,Neither self nor nonself, neither clean nor uncleanAnd neither happiness nor suffering.Therefore, the [four] mistaken views do not exist. (9)

Without a father there is no son, and without a son there is no father.These two do not exist without depending on each other.Neither do they exist simultaneously.The twelve links are exactly the same. (13)

Composite and uncomposite [phenomena]Are not many, are not one,Are not existent, are not nonexistent, [and] are not both existent and nonexistent.These words apply to all phenomena [without exception]. (32)

[Defiled] actions have afflictions as their cause,And the afflictions themselves arise due to [defiled] actions.The body [also] has [defiled] actions as its cause,So all three are empty of essence. (37)

All formations are like unreal cities in the sky,Illusions, mirages, falling hairs,Foam, bubbles, phantoms,Dreams and wheels of fire�They have absolutely no core or substance to them. (66)

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The unequaled Thus Gone OneExplicitly taught thatSince all entities are empty of any inherent nature,All phenomena are dependently arisen. (68)

When one understands that �this arose from those conditions,�The net of wrong views is lifted.One abandons desire, ignorance and aversion,And attains the undefiled state of nirvana. (73)

Under the guidance of Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, adapted by Ari Goldfield from atranslation in Nagar juna: Studies in the Writings and Philosophy of Nagar juna , ChristianLindtner, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, New Delhi, 1990, pp. 31-69. May 17, 1997.

Gyalwa Götsangpa�s

Melody of the Eight Types of Nonduality

Namo Guru!

The precious Lord embodies enlightenment�s five dimensions.I prostrate to and praise this Precious OneWho dispels the darkness of wanderers� sufferingWith nondual, great, everlasting bliss.

Wonderful visions of yidam deities andFearsome apparitions of obstructing demons areNot separable within the pure expanse�So! How joyful! How happy! Sudden Victory!

Obtaining high rebirth or liberation andFalling into the three unhappy destinations areNot separable within the pure expanse�So! How joyful! How happy! Sudden Victory!

The mind busy with perceived and perceiver andThe peaceful state of nonconceptuality areNot separable within the pure expanse�So! How joyful! How happy! Sudden Victory!

Complete happiness and comfort andOverwhelming pain and suffering areNot separable within the pure expanse�So! How joyful! How happy! Sudden Victory!

Being well-respected and worshipfully served andBeing derisively laughed at and beaten areNot separable within the pure expanse�So! How joyful! How happy! Sudden Victory!

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Wandering alone in mountain retreats andTraveling the countries of the world areNot separable within the pure expanse�So! How joyful! How happy! Sudden Victory!

Having the finest food and drink andLiving in hunger without nourishment areNot separable within the pure expanse�So! How joyful! How happy! Sudden Victory!

Not crashing the ground with your skull andTaking birth again and again areNot separable within the pure expanse�So! How joyful! How happy! Sudden Victory!

This is the melody of the eight types of nonduality;I have but a mere understanding of what true union is;Not falling into confusion is very important.

Under the guidance of Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamptso Rinpoche, translated by Tony Duff in January1996, and edited by Ari Goldfield, June 18, 1997.

Selected Verses From Nagarjuna�s

The Refutation of Criticism

Dependently arisen entitiesAre called �emptiness,�[For] that which is dependently arisenIs that which has no inherent nature. (22)

One magical creation halts another,One illusory being puts an end toThe wrong views of his illusory opponent.When I refute the arguments of others, that is exactly what is happening. (23)

Another example: suppose a man falls in love with an illusory woman,Then another illusion comes alongAnd shows the man what a fool he has been�That�s my work. (27)

If I took a position,Then I would have a flaw.Since I take no position,I have no flaw at all. (29)

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If the son is produced by the father,But the father is also produced by that very son,Then will you please tell me,Which one is the true �cause� and which the true �result?� (49)

If emptiness is possible,Then all objects are possible, all levels attainable.If emptiness is impossible,Then everything else is [impossible] as well. (70)

I prostrate to the Awakened One, the Buddha,Who taught that dependent arising and emptiness have the same meaning,And that this is the middle way path.Your words are supreme, their meaning unsurpassed. (Concluding homage)

Under the guidance of Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, translated by Ari Goldfield,May 21, 1997.

Gyalwa Götsangpa�s

Seven Delights

Namo Ratna Guru!

When thoughts that there is something, perceived and a perceiver,Lure my mind away and distract,I don�t close my senses� gateways to meditate without themBut plunge straight into their essential point.They�re like clouds in the sky; there�s this shimmer where they fly.Thoughts that rise, for me sheer delight!

When kleshas get me going, and their heat has got me burning,I try no antidote to set them right.Like an alchemistic potion turning metal into gold,What lies in klesha�s power to bestowIs bliss without contagion, completely undefiled.Kleshas coming up, sheer delight!

When I�m plagued by god-like forces or demonic interference,I do not drive them out with rites and spells.The thing to chase away is egoistic thinking,Built up on the idea of a self.This will turn the ranks of maras into your own special forces.When obstacles arise, sheer delight!

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When samsara with its anguish has me writhing in its torments,Instead of wallowing in misery,I take the greater burden down the greater path to travelAnd let compassion set me upTo take upon myself the sufferings of others.When karmic consequences bloom, delight!

When my body has succumbed to the attacks of painful illness,I do not count on medical relief,But take that very illness as a path and by its powerRemove the obscurations blocking me,And use it to encourage the qualities worthwhile.When illness rears its head, sheer delight!

When it�s time to leave this body, this illusionary tangle,Don�t cause yourself anxiety and grief.The thing that you should train in and clear up for yourself isThere�s no such thing as dying to be done.It�s just clear light, the mother, and child clear light uniting,When mind forsakes the body, sheer delight!

When the whole thing�s just not working, everything�s lined up against you,Don�t try to find some way to change it all.Here the point to make in your practice is reverse the way you see it.Don�t try to make it stop or to improve.Adverse conditions happen; when they do it�s so delightful.They make a little song of sheer delight!

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In June of 1997 in Seattle, Washington, The Very Venerable Khenpo Tsultrim GyamtsoRinpoche gave a series of eleven teachings on realizing emptiness, based on the commen-taries of Nagarjuna and the songs of Gyalwa Götsangpa and Jetsun Milarepa. Thefollowing is an edited transcript of that teaching from the first evening, June 17.Rinpoche�s translator was Ari Goldfield.

By The Very Venerable Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche

Before we listen to these teachings, Rinpoche asks that we all give rise to theprecious attitude of bodhicitta, the awakening mind, which means that notonly for our own benefit, but rather for the benefit of all sentient beings, who

are limitless in number as space is vast in extent, we aspire to attain the preciousstate of buddhahood, which abides neither in the cycle of existence (samsara), nor insome one-sided cessation of suffering or some kind of individual peace (nirvana).

In order to attain the precious rank of buddhahood for the benefit of all sentientbeings, we must generate in our hearts great enthusiasm. We must generate theattitude that we will listen to, reflect upon, and meditate upon the teachings of thegenuine dharma with all of the diligence and enthusiasm that we can muster.

At this time, when we have attained this precious human body, endowed with thewonderful qualities of faith, diligence, and intelligence, it is very important for us touse our time well. And the way to do that is to listen to, reflect upon, and then medi-tate on the genuine dharma.

When we are studying and reflecting on the meaning of the dharma, what are veryimportant are the explanations of how the cycle of existence and nirvana�the tran-

The Very Venerable Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche

Realizing the ProfoundTruth of Emptiness

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scendence of that cycle of existence�appear, andhow they really are�what is their true nature.

Along those lines, tonight Rinpoche will ex-plain, from all of the vast array of topics of thegenuine dharma, some verses from a text by thenoble bodhisattva and protector Nagarjuna, calledthe Sixty Stanzas of Reasoning. [See Page 6 forcomplete text.]

In the first verse, Nagarjuna prostrates to theBuddha, because the Buddha is the one whotaught the truth of dependent arising. Because theBuddha taught that, Nagarjuna prostrates to him.This verse reads:

I prostrate to the Mighty One

Who has taught about dependent arising,

The principle by which

Arising and disintegration are abandoned. (Homage)

If we can understand what dependent arisingmeans, if we can understand the truth of depen-dent arising and how it is that all phenomena aredependently arisen, then we can abandon ourattachment to arising and disintegration. Andsince that is true, then Nagarjuna prostrates tothe Buddha, because the Buddha is the one whotaught this most important truth. The Buddha isthe one who taught us this method by which wecan give up this type of attachment.

The next verse, which is the first verse afterthe homage reads:

Those whose intelligence has gone beyondexistence and nonexistence

And who do not abide [in any extremes]

Have realized the meaning of dependent arising,

The profound and unobservable [truth ofemptiness]. ( 1)

Those whose intelligence has gone beyondexistence and nonexistence refers to those whodesire liberation, who desire to be liberated withtheir intelligence. Have gone beyond existence andnonexistence means that they are no longer at-tached to the idea that phenomena truly exist,that there is some substantial existence to things;nor do they believe that nothing exists, that

reality is a complete nothingness or an absence ofanything whatsoever. They have gone beyond bothof these different extremes of view, because theyhave realized the meaning of dependent arising. Ifone realizes this meaning, then one will no longerbe attached to either of these extremes.

Moreover, at the same time that one realizesthe truth of dependent arising, one will realize thetruth of emptiness, which is at the same time veryprofound and yet unobservable. Meaning that itcan�t be fixed or located by saying �this is it� or�this is emptiness� or �that is emptiness.� It isbeyond all our ideas about what it might be. Theprofound truth of emptiness is not something wecan describe or pinpoint with some type of idea ordescription. Realizing that truth is what is meantby �realizing the truth of emptiness.�

If we still believe in existence, if we have sometype of belief in something substantial, if we thinkthat there is something that truly exists, what-ever it might be, then we are said to fall into theextreme called eternalism or permanence. And ifwe fall into that extreme, we will not realize thetrue nature of reality.

On the other hand, if we propound a viewsaying nothing exists, �there�s absolutely nothing,�that the truth is some kind of nothingness orvacuum, then that too is an extreme. That�s calledthe extreme of nihilism. And if we fall into thatextreme, we will also not realize the truth ofemptiness. The reason for that is that the truth ofemptiness, or what is actual reality, is somethingwhich is beyond any and all of our descriptions ofit or conceptions about it. So whatever our concep-tions are, they would necessarily fall into one ofthese two extremes. And so, by definition, one willnot realize the true nature.

For example, let�s take the appearance of aflower in a dream. This flower is not somethingthat exists, that truly exists, because it�s just adream appearance�there�s no real flower therewhatsoever. On the other hand, you can�t saythere�s absolutely nothing, because there is themere appearance of a flower�but just a mereappearance, that�s it. That is its nature in terms ofhow it exists in the world of appearances. There�snothing really there but there is this mere appear-

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True reality isbeyond all ofour conceptsabout it; it isinconceivable

ance. In a dream there�s nothing substantial butthere is the mere appearance of something sub-stantial. Thus, its true nature transcends bothexistence and nonexistence. Its true nature is notsomething we can describe with these kinds ofterms, because it is beyond any type of thing wemight be able to think up about it. And so, justlike a flower that appears in a dream, all phenom-ena that appear, wherever theyappear, are the same. They allappear in terms of being a mereappearance. There is nothingsubstantial to them, and theirtrue nature transcends bothexistence and non-existence�andany other idea.

All phenomena that appear tous in this life are exactly thesame. None of them truly exists, nor do they haveany substance; but neither are they completelynonexistent, because there is the mere appearanceof them. In terms of true reality, true reality issomething which cannot be described by termssuch as �exist� or �not exist� or by any otherterms. True reality is beyond all of our conceptsabout it; it is inconceivable.

As examples of what this inseparability ofappearance and emptiness, that characterizes allphenomena, is like, the next verse reads:

Those who see with their intelligence

That existence is like a mirage and an illusion

Are not corrupted by believing in

The extremes of earlier and later. (17)

Existence here refers to samsara, cyclic exist-ence that ignorant beings go around and aroundin, again and again. Yet, even though beings arecontinually going around and around in samsara,everything in it is merely inseparable appearanceand emptiness. It appears but it has no substan-tial nature. In that way, it is like a mirage or anillusion. When a magician creates an illusion ofsomething, or when you see a mirage in the desertthat looks like water, these are things that appearto exist, but in reality have no substantial exist-ence at all. That is the characteristic of all appear-

ances in cyclic existence.Those who see with their eye of intelligence

that that is how all these appearances truly are,are not corrupted by believing in the extremes ofearlier and later. Earlier and later refers to howyou view past and future lives. Here, you could fallinto the extreme of thinking that past and futurelives were things that truly existed, that were

somehow real and had somesubstance to them. That would befalling into the extreme of perma-nence. On the other hand, youcould fall into the extreme ofthinking that past and future livesabsolutely didn�t exist, that therewas nothing whatsoever. Thatwould be falling into the extremeof nihilism. However, by realizing

that appearances appear and yet are empty of anytrue existence, you avoid falling into these ex-tremes.

In the next verse we are introduced to agradual way of beginning to understand empti-ness. It says:

By understanding arising, disintegration isunderstood.

By understanding disintegration, impermanenceis understood.

By understanding impermanence

The truth of the genuine dharma is realized. (22)

The first thing that we need to understand,that we can notice and think about, is arising, orbirth�how it is that phenomena or things incyclic existence come into being. For example, thisflower. This flower was not just created by onecause or one thing or one condition, but rather itcame into being because of the coming together ofa great many different causes and conditions. Andjust like this flower, so are all phenomena in cyclicexistence. They don�t rely on one cause or condi-tion; they are dependent for their existence on acoming together of a group of causes and condi-tions. If we can understand that, which is thetruth of arising, then what follows is cessation.Everything that is born has to die. There�s nothing

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There�s no wayto make cyclicexistence intosomethingstable, intosomething thatwill not change,into somethingdependable

that ever is born or comes into being that does notcease to be. We know this just by our own observa-tion and by our own experience.

Now we understand birth and death. And if weunderstand birth and death, then we also neces-sarily understand that phenomena are imperma-nent. Because �impermanent� means that thingsdon�t stay the same forever. That which is bornand that which dies go through changes. So allphenomena are impermanent.

There are two different types of imperma-nence. One type is called gross impermanence,and that is the impermanence that you can seewith your eyes or experience with your othersenses. When a house is destroyed by an earth-quake, you can actually see this type of imperma-nence happen right before your eyes.

The second type is called subtle imperma-nence. Subtle impermanence describes the factthat all phenomena are changing moment bymoment. From moment to moment, no phenom-ena stay the same. Causes and conditions arecontinually acting on all phenomena in cyclicexistence, and so none of them ever stays thesame from one moment to the next. For example[Rinpoche snaps his fingers], evenwithin one finger snap there arehow many different parts? Howmany different instants are there?Hundreds and thousands andmillions�you can keep dividingand find smaller and smallerinstants, and no two instants arethe same. So even such a tiny,minute phenomenon is constantlychanging, and never stays thesame. Realizing that is realizingemptiness, which is to realize thatno phenomenon has any substan-tial, permanent nature.

The next verse reads:

Without a stable focus or location,

Not remaining and without root,

Arisen totally as a result of ignorance,

Without beginning, middle, or end . . . (26)

What is being described here is cyclic exist-ence, and cyclic existence has no fixed location. Itdoesn�t have a location that is in any way trulyexistent. How can we know this to be true? We alllive on this planet Earth, and we might think thatwe can find some location here. But this Earth isjust suspended in space. And space is without anydirection or location to it. So, if this Earth is justfloating around in space without direction orlocation, how can we then say that we have anydirection or fixed location? It doesn�t make anysense. That is something we can think about andunderstand pretty easily.

If we think about direction and location just onthis Earth, another reason why we can say thatthere is no location or direction is that everybodyon this Earth thinks that they are right side up.[Laughter] Everybody thinks that they are rightside up; nobody thinks that they are upside down.But you can�t really have �right side up� without�upside down.� These two depend on each other.So really, there is no right side up or upside downon this earth. If we analyze carefully, we can seethat this is true.

Without a stable focus: No matter how hard wetry to make cyclic existence intosomething that truly exists, wecan�t do it. There�s no way tomake cyclic existence into some-thing stable, into something thatwill not change, into somethingdependable. By nature, it�s noneof those things. It is constantlychanging and has no substanceto it. And so all of our attemptsto solidify it in any way arecompletely in vain. No matterwhat phenomena you try to useor try to analyze to make it intosomething stable and fixed, youjust can�t do it.

The next line says that it is without root,which means that there is nothing groundingcyclic existence. To give an example that can beanalyzed, take this Earth. We think that Earth ismade up of atoms of substantial matter. That isthe ground. That is what we are rooted to, that is

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What is the realroot of cyclicexistence? It isignorance, and itis clinging to abelief in a self

our foundation. When we analyze these atoms,however, we really can�t find anything, because, asyou examine more finely, you find smaller andsmaller particles. And every newparticle, no matter how small, isjust a collection or mass ofsmaller particles. And so, if youtry to find the smallest trulyexistent particle, you can�t find it.In this way it is demonstratedthat there really is nothing sub-stantial there. There really is nosuch thing as matter. There reallyis no such thing as some kind ofsolid foundation. It doesn�t exist.

So what is the real root of cyclic existence? It isignorance, and it is clinging to a belief in a

self�in a truly existent self of the individual, andin some substantial existence to phenomena. Butthese two also have no true existence; if we ana-lyze them, they are not substantial, truly existentthings. And since we can see that the cycle ofexistence springs from the erroneous belief in atruly existent self and truly existent phenomena,then it follows that cyclic existence is also not asubstantially existent thing. So cyclic existencehas no root.

Then the next verse says not remaining; thesephenomena don�t remain. They are just likephenomena that appear in a dream. Whateverappears in a dream never really comes into being,even though it looks as if it does. And it neverreally goes out of existence, even though it looksas if it does. So how could there be anything toremain or have duration? Nothing ever reallyarises, nothing ever really goes away, and nothingever really remains in cyclic existence. All appear-ances are exactly the same in that way.

These appearances in a dream, if they werereally to abide or remain, would first have to comeinto existence. But since they never really comeinto existence, they can never remain, and theycan never go away. That�s how we should thinkabout this.

Then the third line says that the real cause ofcyclic existence is ignorance. Cyclic existence

arises totally as a result of ignorance. So whatdoes that mean? How does that work? First we areignorant of the true nature of phenomena; we

think that they really exist. As aresult, we develop the otherafflictions or kleshas. We getattached to the phenomena thatwe like and want them; and thereare other phenomena that wedon�t like, so we try to push themaway. In this way we developattachment and aversion, as aresult of which we take all differ-ent kinds of actions. These kindsof actions are said to be defiled

actions because, when we act out of attachmentand aversion, our actions are governed and moti-vated by our ignorance. These kinds of actionsproduce suffering as their result, and so we just goaround and around in the cycle of existence.

Since the cause of cyclic existence is ignorance,we might think that it had some fixed point ofbeginning and some point where it might end. Butreally, it�s not that way; it�s just like a dream, inthat things in a dream really have no beginning,middle, or end.

The next verse reads:

Without core, like a banana tree.

Like an unreal city in the sky,

The suffering world�the lands of confusion�

Manifests in this way�like an illusion. (27)

This verse starts out by saying that cyclicexistence is without core, like a banana tree.When you peel a banana tree, you peel it and peelit and it has more and more peels to it. You look atthis thing and it looks like something really solidand truly existent, but if you take off all thelayers, there�s no core. That�s it, there�s nothingleft. In India the example of a banana tree wasused to show that cyclic existence is without anycore. It has no essence.

Then the cycle of existence is compared to anunreal city in the sky. This is a reference to thecity of the gandharvas. The literal translation oftheir name is �smell eaters,� which they are called

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We sufferbecause wetake things to betruly existent

because [Rinpoche laughs] they are formlessbeings who subsist by eating odors. The Buddhatalked about them, otherwise we wouldn�t knowtoo much about them, because most people can�tsee them [more laughter]. But some people can seethem, and what they see is a big city where allthese smell eaters live. They live just as we do andthey do all different kinds of things. But even ifyou could ever see this place, if you could be there,you wouldn�t be able to use anything there, be-cause it�s just like a phantom place. You could seemany different things, but you couldn�t make useof anything, or take part in anything, or talk toanybody, because gandharvas are just like phan-toms. This is another example illustrating thetrue nature of cyclic existence.

The verse goes on to say that this is the suffer-ing world. These are the lands of confusion, andthe beings in this world suffer. Why? We sufferbecause we take things to be truly existent be-cause we are confused about the nature of theseappearances. We think these appearances aresomething real. But they are really not. Therefore,we suffer. And yet, all of this suffering in cyclicexistence, what is it like? It�s just an illusion. Thesuffering in cyclic existence appears, and all thebeings in this world appear, simply because of thecoming together of causes andconditions, which produce theirappearance. And yet all the beingsin this world and everything incyclic existence is merely insepar-able appearance and emptiness. Itis appearance that has no substan-tial nature.

None of us seems to have hadany experience with this city of the smell eaters,though it is said that, in past lives, we too weresmell eaters. But we don�t really remember that[Rinpoche laughs], so it doesn�t do us too muchgood to think about it. But what we can relate to,in terms of our own experience, are examples likedreams and dream cities. In dreams we can expe-rience appearances of very large and busy cities.There is not one thing that exists really in thosecities; they are mere appearance. We can go to amovie and in the movie see a very big city with all

types of things happening in it. But again that�sjust a mere appearance. There�s nothing real to it.

The next verse suggests a stage-by-stageapproach to gaining an understanding of empti-ness, or true nature:

To those students in search of suchness

At first teachers should say, �Everything exists.�

Then after they realize the meaning of this andabandon desire,

They will gain perfect transcendence. (30)

How should beginning students of thedharma�students in search of suchness, whowant to realize the true nature�be introduced tothings? First, teachers should say that thingsexist. They should explain things in terms ofexistence, which means that they should talkabout past lives and future lives as being existent.And why? Because they are an integral aspect ofthe principle of cause and effect, of the law ofkarma which is that good actions lead to happi-ness, and bad or harmful actions, negative actionstowards other sentient beings, lead to suffering.This is an important principle, and we should betaught that it is true and potent, so that we willhave faith in it and live by it.

We should also be taughtthat the three jewels reallyexist, that there is the Buddha,the Buddha�s teachings calledthe dharma, and the commu-nity of dharma practitionerscalled the sangha. The threejewels can provide us with agenuine refuge from cyclic

existence and can lead us out of it. We should alsobe taught to be wary of cyclic existence, to feeldisgust for it, because it is of the nature of suffer-ing�especially the lower realms like the hellrealms, where beings go who commit the mostnegative actions. We should be taught about allthese things at first as being things which arereal. As a result, we will, if we understand themeaning of this, abandon desire. If we understandthe meaning of all of this, we will no longer seekhappiness from cyclic existence. We will no longer

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Beings who . . .understanddependentarising willunderstand thatall phenomenaare just like amoon thatappears in a poolof water

*Editor�s note: To be �truly existent� something must beunitary, i.e. indivisible, unchanging, and independent ofcauses and conditions for its existence. Any particle ofsubstantial matter, regardless of how small it is, can theo-retically be made to touch another particle of matter. Whenthese two particles touch each other, the right side of onetouches the left side of the other. Therefore, each of them hasboth a left and a right side and, consequently, each can bedivided in half. In fact, they are infinitely divisible. By thislogic it is demonstrated that matter cannot, in fact, existsubstantially as we know it.

seek happiness by trying to fulfillthe needs of this �I,� by trying tomake this �I� happy. And so wewill no longer be caught inthinking that somewhere outthere there can be somethingthat can bring happiness. Wewon�t have any more desire foranything in the cycle of exist-ence, and what that will lead tois an understanding of empti-ness, which is here described asperfect transcendence.

The next verse reads:

Those who realize that allentities are dependently arisen,

And just like a moon that appears in a poolof water,

Are neither true nor false,

Are not carried away by philosophical dogmas.(45)

Beings who with their intelligence understanddependent arising will understand that all phe-nomena are just like a moon that appears in apool of water. That moon is something that isneither truly substantially existent, nor is itsomething completely nonexistent. There is anappearance of it, and that is also the nature of allphenomena. By realizing this, one will not becarried away by beliefs in extreme views or ex-treme types of philosophical dogmas.

This verse teaches that the true nature ofeverything in cyclic existence and of cyclic exist-ence itself transcends both being true and beingfalse. They are neither true nor false, just like themoon that appears in a pool of water. When youlook at the moon that appears in a pool of water,there�s absolutely no way to tell that it�s not a realmoon. If there�s a moon and it�s a clear night, andthe water is not moving, and you look down andyou see the moon there, what is to say that it isnot the moon? There is a mere appearance of amoon, and yet there�s absolutely nothing substan-tial to it. Once you put your hand in the water,then you realize that the moon you have been

seeing is absolutely insubstantial.That�s the way it really is with allphenomena. If you analyze care-fully, even the tiniest particle canbe shown not to exist, because eventhe tiniest particle has parts thatit�s made of.* There really is nosuch thing as a truly existent pieceof matter. And by the extension ofthat analysis we learn that allphenomena that we see, all appear-ances, are of this nature. Theyhave no true existence.

They have no substance, andyet they can not be said to be

nonexistent either. You cannot say that everythingis nothing or everything is fake. Because if yousay that everything is fake or false, then thatturns falsity into something truly existent. Thatreifies falsity into something substantial.

Furthermore, if there is really nothing true,then there can�t be anything really false. Therecan be no falsity, because the concept of falsity isdependent on the concept of truth. First you haveto have truth in order to be able to have falsity,because false means not true. So if there is no�true,� then you cannot have �not true.� These arejust ideas that are dependently existent on eachother. Knowing this helps us to understand how itis that the true nature of cyclic existence tran-scends all these different kinds of ideas.

We live on this planet. On this planet there�sno up and down. This planet is suspended in spacewhich has neither center nor edge, neither amiddle point nor boundaries. And our existencetranscends ideas of true and false. This Earth isneither true nor false, but like the moon thatappears in a pool of water, and the many different

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sentient beings going about their business on itare also neither true nor false. We are all justmere appearances, just like the moon that appearsin a pool of water.

So how is it that we take things to be real? Thenext verse reads:

Children are tricked by reflections

Because they take them to be real.

In the very same way, because of theirignorance,

Beings are imprisoned in the cages of their[conceptual] objects. (53)

Children can be tricked by a reflection in amirror or by a magic trick, or by something in amovie, and they think that all of those things arereal and actually have some real ability to dothings. Everybody else knows that there is noth-ing real there. But we who are still ignorant are inthe exact same situation. Because of ignorance, weare imprisoned in a cage made up of all of theobjects which we conceptualize to be real. So weare imprisoned by that. And we are blocked fromrealizing our true potential because we take all ofthese things to be real, because we conceptualizethese things to be real when really they are not,when really they are just like reflections or magictricks that can fool children.

The next verse reads:

The great ones, who with the eyes of primordialawareness

See that entities are just like reflections,

Do not get caught in the mire

Of so-called �objects.� (54)

The great and noble bodhisattvas, who haverealized the truth of emptiness, who, with the eyesof primordial awareness, see that entities are justlike reflections, do not get caught in the mire of so-called objects. Great ones refers to noblebodhisattvas. With the eyes of primordial aware-ness means awareness that has really beenpresent from the beginning, which is inherent inthe true nature of mind. You could also say, withthe eyes of their wisdom. They see that all of the

entities within the cycle of existence are just likereflections in a pool of water, or just like reflec-tions in a mirror, that they are mere appearanceswithout any substantial existence. They see thatentities don�t truly exist, and, because of that,they don�t get caught in the mud and mire aseverybody else does, which is the mire of takingall of this to be true. Taking everything to be trueis like a trap, of which they are free.

There is a story about the great bodhisattva-yogini of Tibet, Machig Lapdrön. Machig

Lapdrön had the incredible ability to read thesutras at a very, very fast rate. Once, during anentire month, she read all twelve volumes of theone hundred thousand line version of the Sutra ofTranscendent Perfection of Wisdom every day.Every day she read all twelve volumes. In thosesutras it talks about how form has no color�it�sneither yellow nor red nor white nor blue. Nordoes it have any shape�it�s not round or rectan-gular. Nor is it hard or soft. None of these charac-teristics, or any other characteristics, truly exists.

By reading that sutra every day, at the end ofa month Machig Lapdrön had directly realizedemptiness. As a result of that she was able to seethat all phenomena are just mere appearances,are just like reflections, and so she did not getcaught in the mire of clinging to objects as beingtrue.

Machig Lapdrön was quite special. Mostsiddhas, most great spiritual masters of Tibet andIndia, attained realization through the practice ofvajrayana, through the practice of tantra. MachigLapdrön, on the other hand, attained realizationthrough studying, contemplating, and meditatingon the teachings of the second turning of thewheel of dharma, the Prajnaparamita sutras, thesutras of The Transcendent Perfection of Wisdom.When she passed into nirvana, they built a fu-neral pyre for her. When it was burning, her son,who was also a great master, named GyalwaDöndrup, sang praises to her at each door of hercremation shrine. In one of these praises he sang,�Mother, you are the great Prajnaparamitasiddha. You are the great master of The Transcen-dent Perfection of Wisdom.�

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It is important for us to realize how profoundand how important this view being taught here intexts like Nagarjuna�s Sixty Stanzas of Reasoningis, because, if you know this view well, if youunderstand emptiness through this view, then youalso can attain the great powers of realization.

The next verse reads:

The immature are attached to form.

The moderate are free from attachment to[the sense objects],

And those endowed with supreme intelligence

Know the true nature of form and [by soknowing] are liberated. (55)

The immature here refers to those who are notbodhisattvas, who are still in cyclic existence. Andthe reason that they are still in cyclic existence isthat they are still attached to form as being some-thing real. As a consequence, they still have desirefor certain kinds of forms and aversion for otherkinds of forms, and this keeps them going aroundin the cycle of existence.

The moderate are free from attachment to senseobjects; this refers to beings in the formless gods�realms of the cycle of existence, who have dis-pensed with the kind of attachment and clingingto objects of form that we have but are still at-tached to a sort of blank meditation state. Eventhough they are free of attachment to sense ob-jects, they are not completely free from the cycle ofexistence. Who is free from the cycle of existence?Those endowed with the supreme intelligence thatknows the true nature of form, who know form tobe empty, who know form to be nothing more thaninseparable appearance and emptiness. By know-ing that, they are liberated.

The next verse reads:

The awful ocean of existence

Is filled with the tormenting snakes of theaff lictions.

But those whose minds are not moved even bythoughts of voidness

Have safely crossed over [its dangers]. (59)

What is the method by which we can attain

the transcendence of suffering, by which we canattain nirvana? It is by our minds� not beingmoved even by thoughts of voidness. What thismeans is that, even though thinking that every-thing is empty is quite a subtle thought, still, if weare attached to that thought, then we are reifyingemptiness into something real. We are attached toemptiness as being something truly existent, andthat�s still not quite realizing the true nature ofreality, which is beyond all conceptions aboutwhat it might be. But those whose minds are notmoved even by thoughts of emptiness have safelycrossed over the dangers of the awful ocean ofexistence, which is filled with the tormentingsnakes of all of the afflictive mental states. Theseafflictive mental states constantly plague all thosewho are still going around in cyclic existence.Those whose minds are not moved even bythoughts of emptiness have crossed over thisocean of suffering and have attained nirvana, thetranscendence of suffering.

The last verse is the dedication of merit:

By the power of the virtue performed here

May all beings perfect the accumulations ofmerit and wisdom,

And from this merit and wisdom,

May they attain the twin dimensions of genuine[enlightenment]. (60)

This is the dedication that Nagarjuna wrote.When he talks about the power of the virtueperformed here, he is talking about the power ofhis virtue accumulated by writing this text. Butfor us, it�s the power of the virtue of listening toand thinking about the explanations of the text.By that virtue, we should think, may all beingsperfect the accumulations of merit and wisdom.Merit and wisdom are the two causes of enlighten-ment. The perfection of the accumulation of meritis essentially the perfection of doing good forothers in terms of apparent reality. The accumula-tion of wisdom is the perfection of realizing thetrue nature, which is beyond all conception. Fromthis merit and wisdom, may sentient beings attainthe twin dimensions of genuine enlightenment,which refers to the two kayas, the dharmakaya

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*Editor�s note: Traditionally the rupakaya is used to standfor both the sambhogakaya and nirmanakaya. Thenirmanakaya is, indeed, what can be seen by the eyes ofsentient beings in the human realm. The sambhogakaya isanother form body, imperceptible to ordinary beings, butperceptible to enlightened bodhisattvas, which also exists forthe benefit of beings.

and the rupakaya, sometimes translated as thetruth body and the form body. The truth bodyrefers to the actual mind of the buddha, the pureawareness of the buddha, and that body is theresult of the perfection of the accumulation ofwisdom of the true nature of reality.

The form body of the buddha is what every-body can see, and what benefits beings.* It is theresult of the perfection of the accumulation ofmerit. So by the power of the virtue performedhere, may all beings perfect the accumulations ofmerit and wisdom. And from this merit and wis-dom, may they attain the twin dimensions ofgenuine enlightenment.

This has been a brief explanation of some veryimportant verses from Nagarjuna�s Sixty

Stanzas of Reasoning. In this day and age, we allhave a lot of work to do and we have a lot of otherthings to study, so we don�t have time to study theentire text in all of its detail. Since that is thecase, then it�s very good to look at the importantverses and understand their meaning. That issomething that we can do in a brief period of time,so that�s why we have explained it in this fashion.

This is a good selection of verses because atthe beginning there is the homage, and at the endthere is the dedication of merit, which roundseverything out. In between are the importantverses, so it�s a good collection of verses to have.

When we are meditating on emptiness, if wepick one verse and recite it, think about it, andmeditate on its meaning, and then move to an-other verse, recite it, think about it, and meditateon its meaning, and continue on in that vein, thenthat�s a very good way to meditate.

If you are curious why we recite these verseswith even timing and in a level tone of voice, theidea is to let the mind rest in a peaceful way. Butof course, when you are by yourself, you may sayit any way with which you feel comfortable.

Question: [unintelligible, but probably:] Whydoes the accumulation of merit lead to a formbody, and the accumulation of wisdom lead to thetruth body?

Rinpoche: The form body is all of the greatqualities of the buddha, like the protrusion on thehead, the radiant body, and things like that,including the thirty-two major and eighty minorsigns of physical perfection. Why does the accumu-lation of merit lead to the attainment of such abody? This actual body of the buddha is what weas deluded sentient beings can see and what helpsbeings. From that standpoint, it is somethingexistent. The accumulation of merit is actuallyhelping beings and doing good things for beings interms of the existent. And so this is something,from that standpoint of being existent, that has aresult which is also something existent.

If we take this house as an example, the wallsand the paint and the colors are things that wecan see, so they are all existent things, and theyhave existent causes. The space inside of thehouse is something nonexistent that has causeswhich are also nonexistent. So it�s like that.

So just as the space inside of this house is some-thing nonexistent and, therefore, can�t have anexistent cause, similarly the truth body ordharmakaya, which is the complete freedom from allelaborations, also requires as its cause the medita-tion on emptiness, which is also free from all elabo-ration.

Question: [questioner seems to ask aboutnirmanakaya and sambhogakaya]

Rinpoche: The sambhogakaya or the enjoymentbody is also a form body. It is of the nature oflight�that�s how it�s described. It includes, forexample, Vajrasattva, or the five buddhas of thefive buddha families. These are forms whichordinary beings can not perceive. Onlybodhisattvas can perceive them. In short, thesambhogakaya is the enjoyment body which isenjoyed by all bodhisattvas.

The emanation body, the nirmanakaya, on theother hand, is made of flesh and blood, is bornfrom a womb, and can be seen by all ordinary

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beings. It�s not really of the nature of flesh andblood, but that�s how it appears to us.

Question: Why are the form and truth bodyreferred to as �twin� bodies?

Translator: It�s twin meaning two, not twin liketwins, but twin like two. I just thought it soundednice. [laughter]

Question: Could Rinpoche explain the extremesof earlier and later again?

Rinpoche: Earlier and later refer to past andfuture lives. In Buddhism it is taught that thereare past and future lives. As for past lives, therewas never a first one, for there is no beginning tothe succession of them. As for future lives, so longas we are ignorant, then there will be no end tothem. If we think that these lives are things thatare truly existent, that they have some substan-tial existence, then we fall into the extreme ofpermanence, of eternalism. And if we believe, onthe other hand, that there is absolutely no suchthing whatsoever, that there are not even themere appearances of past and future lives, thenwe fall into the extreme of nihilism. But if werealize that this existence is like a mirage and anillusion, in the sense that it is something thatappears but has no true existence, then we won�tfall into either of these extremes.

So it�s good if we understand what is a mirageand an illusion. All of our suffering is just a mi-rage and an illusion. All of our afflictive mentalstates are just mirages and illusions. And all thedifficult and adverse circumstances that we runinto are just mirages and illusions. They are justmere appearances without any substantial na-ture.

We should think about the suffering in adream. If we dream of bad things happeningwhich entail suffering, and if we don�t know thatwe are dreaming, then there is absolutely nodifference between the suffering we experience inthe dream and the suffering we have during theday. Absolutely no difference. Now from the perspec-tive of the waking state, there is nothing reallyhappening in a dream. It is a mere appearance.

There is no reason to suffer. The only reason that wesuffer is that we take these dream appearances tobe true. It is only because we are obscured by ourignorance that we think these dreams are real, andwe suffer as a result of it.

What is the true nature of a dream? It is justopenness and spaciousness. What we need to do tobe liberated from suffering is to realize that allappearances are of the same nature. We need torealize that our suffering does not come from theseappearances, but from our taking these appear-ances to be real. If we realize this, then we willexperience the true nature of everything that is,which is openness and spaciousness also.

When we first learn about emptiness, it ap-pears that emptiness has to do with outer phe-nomena, that outer phenomena are empty of trueexistence. But really and truly, true emptiness,the true nature of reality, is the true nature of ourmind, the true nature of this very present andever present mind. And the true nature of thisvery present mind is openness, spaciousness,complete freedom from all thoughts, completefreedom from all ideas about the way things are orare not. Openness, spaciousness, and relaxedness.

Question: You were talking about the extremes ofearlier and later, past and future lives, perma-nence versus nihilism. I guess I�m getting confusedabout how you equate these. I�ve heard existenceversus nihilism, but how can you say that existenceis permanent? Maybe in that moment that I�mtotally caught in something I think it�s permanent,but if I step back I realize it�s not permanent. But Istill think it exists. So even though I don�t think it�spermanent, I still think it exists.

Translator: Permanence is a literal translation ofthe word in Tibetan, takba, but I can askRinpoche to explain it a little bit more.

Rinpoche: There are lots of different extremes ofview that we can fall into. The point is not tothink about just being free from the view of per-manence, but also from the extremes of thinkingeither that things exist or thinking that things donot exist; of thinking that things are permanent orthinking that they are impermanent, of thinking

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and received instructions. Then he went to northernTibet and meditated for many years in a cave near avery big lake. Then he went to western Tibet, toMount Kailash and meditated near Mount Kailashfor a while. Then he went to India where he went toa sacred place called Jaulindata. Then he went toNepal and from there back to Tibet. In all of hisgreat and miraculous life, he never stayed inmeditation in the same place twice. He nevervisited the same place twice. He was constantlygoing from one cave to another, and when hepassed into nirvana, he was still living in a cave.His is a really miraculous story. Something quitewonderful about Götsangpa�s story is that he wasvery sick a lot of the time that he was meditating.He was quite ill, and the illness caused him a lotof pain. But he took his illness to the path, and hisillness became the means by which he realized thetrue nature. Later he sang many songs about howhe did that.

The metaphor of flourishing a lance in space isused because, when one flourishes a lance or asword in space, there is no obstruction, there is nohindrance to it. It moves very freely. It does notmove once and then run into something. It is neverhindered by anything. This is an example of whatthe true nature is like, and what realization of thetrue nature is like; it is completely unhindered. It isopen, spacious, and relaxed.

This song is very much in accord with themeaning of the verses we have studied from theSixty Stanzas of Reasoning, because the SixtyStanzas of Reasoning talks about the true nature,which is the complete freedom from any ideasabout it, which nature is also completely open,spacious, and relaxed.

The view is without any focus or object. Themeditation is without any grasping. The conduct iswithout any type of attachment or bias. These threedescribe the true nature. Both teachings are talkingabout the same state of openness and spaciousness.

So now we will meditate, and the way we willmeditate is that we will read one verse at a time,and then meditate on the meaning of that verse. Wewill read the verse, then think about the meaning alittle bit, and then finally rest without any type ofgrasping or thinking about anything at all.

that they appear or thinking that they do notappear, of thinking that they are empty or think-ing that they are not empty�all of these sets ofextremes are thoughts, are different concepts thatwe impute to reality. But the true nature of reality isbeyond all extremes of thought, beyond all thedifferent kinds of thoughts that we have about it.That�s the point of teaching about these extremes.It�s just to show us that these are different ideas andthoughts that we can have about how things are.

The Consequence Middle Way school, thePrasangika Madhyamika, doesn�t make any asser-tions about anything. They have no views, becauseany view is regarded as an extreme. Any view is asuperimposition onto the true nature of reality. Andso they don�t have anything to say about the natureof reality except to refute other people�s views.

In order to understand this, the best thing todo in the beginning is to think about dreams. Youcan�t say that dream appearances, the things in adream, are existent, but you can�t say that they�recompletely nonexistent. You can�t say that theyfall into the extreme of permanence, but you can�tsay that they fall into the extreme of nihilismeither. You can�t say that they are entities, butyou can�t say that they�re not entities. You can�tsay really anything about them. Nothing really canaccurately describe what they are. Thinking in thisway we can understand the true nature of reality.

In the Fundamental Wisdom of the MiddleWay, Nagarjuna wrote a verse which says, �Per-manence, impermanence, and so forth, these four,where are they in the expanse of peace?� Perma-nence, impermanence, both permanence andimpermanence, neither permanence nor imperma-nence�any kind of idea you want to make up�where is it in the expanse of the true nature ofreality? Where is it in the expanse of peace? Youcan�t find it, because the true nature is beyond allof these concepts.

We will now discuss a song by a great Kagyuyogi, Gyalwa Götsangpa called Eight Flash-

ing Lances, which is very good for us to read. [SeePage 7 for complete text.]

Gyalwa Götsangpa was born in southern Tibet.He traveled to central Tibet, where he met his lama

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�Nagarjuna had five main types of reasoningswith which he demonstrated that

phenomena do not truly exist.�

The Logic ThatRefutes the IdeaThat Anything Is

Truly Existent

Rinpoche wishes everybody tashi delek thisevening, and makes the aspiration that allof us will develop ultimate awakening

mind, which is the bodhicitta that understandsthe ultimate truth. It is by virtue of not under-standing the ultimate truth that we are trappedin cyclic existence, which is marked by confusionand ignorance.

Rinpoche also makes the aspiration that ourrelative awakening mind will also increase andincrease. Relative awakening mind, relativebodhicitta, is loving kindness and compassion forall sentient beings. By developing relativebodhicitta, we prevent ourselves from falling intothe extreme of becoming attached to isolation,one-sided peace, or cessation.

By developing these two types of awakeningmind, we will attain the precious state ofbuddhahood, which falls neither into the extremeof existence, nor into the extreme of one-sidedpeace, and we will be able to perform the benefitof countless living beings. Please give rise to theprecious attitude of bodhicitta, the awakeningmind, which is the essential aspiration of thegreat vehicle, the mahayana.

Tonight, Rinpoche will explain some versesfrom the protector Nagarjuna�s text, SeventyStanzas on Emptiness. [See Page 9 for completetext.]

The first verse reads:

Entities do not exist

In their causes, in their conditions,

In aggregations of many things, or in individualthings.

Therefore, all entities are empty. (3)

Entities are, by nature, empty of any type ofsubstantial existence; therefore, they cannot befound to exist in their causes and conditions or inthe coming together of their causes and conditions.They cannot be found to exist in the coming to-gether of many things, nor can they be found toexist in individual things. They cannot be found toexist in any one cause or any one condition. And ifwe examine very subtly, we see that even thesecauses and conditions do not have any true exist-

The following transcript continuesRinpoche�s series of teachings.

This is from June 18, 1997.

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What is themain cause ofsuffering inthinking aboutthe future? It isthe future! . . .The future issomething whichdoes not exist

ence. It is impossible to find an entity that trulyexists in any of these possibilities; therefore,entities are empty of inherent existence.

As an example, we can applythis logic to the suffering weexperience as a result of thinkingabout the future. As a result ofthinking about the future, weexperience a lot of worry andanxiety, which is suffering. How-ever, if we examine its nature, wewill find that it doesn�t reallyexist. It doesn�t exist either in thecoming together of all or anynumber of its causes and condi-tions, or in any one particularcause or condition that we mightisolate.

What is the main cause of suffering in think-ing about the future? It is the future! Let us thinkabout that. The future is something which doesnot exist. You can�t find it anywhere. The future issomething that is not here at all. Since the causedoesn�t exist, the suffering doesn�t exist either.

The next verse reads:

Because it already exists, that which exists doesnot arise.

Because it does not exist, that which does notexist does not arise.

Because they contradict each other, existenceand nonexistence do not [arise] together

Since there is no arising, there is no remainingor cessation either. (4)

We can develop a reasoning using this logic.We can say that suffering is not something thatever arises. Why? Because, it doesn�t arise frombeing existent when its cause is present. And itdoesn�t arise from being nonexistent when itscause is present. And it doesn�t arise from beingboth existent and nonexistent when its cause ispresent. And it doesn�t arise from some otherpossibility. Let�s look at these four.

If you say that something arises, then it eitherhas to exist at the time of its cause or not exist atthe time of its cause. Those are the only two

possibilities. If something exists at the time of itscause, then it doesn�t need to arise. It doesn�tmake any sense that it would arise when it al-

ready exists. How could it exist atthe time of its cause? If it existedat the time of its cause, then onewould not be producing the other;the result would not rely on thecause to exist. It would alreadybe there, so arising would besomething nonsensical.

The next possibility is thatthe thing does not exist at thetime of its cause. If that weretrue, then what you would besaying is that the cause does nothave power to do anything,because, by the time the result

comes around, the cause is gone. There would beno connection between the two. So we would seeall kinds of things arising without cause, likeflowers arising in space, because causes wouldhave no power to do anything.

A thing does not arise from being both existentand nonexistent at the time the cause is present.That doesn�t make any sense. That has all thefaults of the previous two reasonings. And, there isno other possible way for a thing to arise. There-fore, suffering is not something that arises. And ifit does not arise, then suffering is not somethingthat truly exists.

Nagarjuna had five main types of reasoningswith which he demonstrated that phenomena donot truly exist. One of them was this, to examinewhether or not, at the time of the cause, the resulteither existed or did not exist.

For example, suffering in a dream is notsomething that arises from being existent at thetime of its cause, from being nonexistent at thetime of its cause, from being both existent andnonexistent at the time of its cause, or from beingneither existent nor nonexistent at the time of itscause. Suffering in a dream is something thatnever really happens. It is just a mere appear-ance. If we think about this type of example, itwill help us to understand. To understand thatphenomena never really arise, or never come into

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Another one ofNagarjuna�sreasonings is toexamine aphenomenon todeterminewhether it existsas somethingthat is oneor many

being, is difficult. But if we think about a dream itwill become easier, because in dreams we have alltypes of appearances that never really happen,that never really come into being.

Another one of Nagarjuna�s reasonings is toexamine a phenomenon to determine whether itexists as something that is one or many. This nextverse shows how these ideas of one and many arereally just dependently arisen and, therefore, nottruly existent:

Without one there are not many, and

Without many there is not one.

Therefore, dependently arisen entities[like these]

Have no characteristics. (7)

A dependently arisen entity, anything that hasarisen in dependence on other things, has nocharacteristics, which means that it has no sub-stantial essence. It is not something that trulyexists because it is neither one unitary thing noris it the coming together of many things.

We can take this flower as an example ofsomething that is neither one nor many, like allphenomena. This flower is clearlynot one, unitary, indivisible thing,because it has many parts. On theother hand it is not many indivis-ible things because each of theseparts in turn has many parts.Since it is not one, unitary, sub-stantial, indivisible thing andsince it is also not many unitary,substantial, indivisible things, itdoes not truly exist.

All dependently occurringappearances have no substantialessences because they are beyondbeing either one indivisible thingor many indivisible things. Forexamples we have the depen-dently occurring appearances thatwe see in dreams. All of the things that we see indreams are appearances. At the time we aredreaming, they look real, but in fact they have nosubstantial essence. They have no inherent na-

ture, because they are neither one thing, nor arethey many.

We might think that the afflictions, the af-flicted mental states, are things that are real, thatthe kleshas are things that have substance tothem. We might think that, because there aremistaken views, wrong ways of seeing things,which then give rise to emotional afflictions in ourminds. But these wrong views do not really existeither. There is really no such thing as a wrongview. Mistaken views, which appear in our minds,are just mere appearances. That is demonstratedin the next verse:

[In the true nature] there is neither permanencenor impermanence,

Neither self nor nonself, neither clean norunclean

And neither happiness nor suffering.

Therefore, the [four] mistaken views do notexist. (9)

All of these mistaken views, these thoughts ofpermanence and impermanence, self and nonself,clean and unclean, etc., are dependently existent

thoughts. They depend on theexistence of correct views. To havean idea of a mistaken view, youhave to have an idea of what acorrect view is. So there is noth-ing that is inherently mistaken.Things can only be mistaken independence on something that iscorrect. Therefore, a mistakenview is only dependently arisen,and never truly arises. It is notsomething that ever truly hap-pens. Moreover, if we examinethese thoughts of mistaken viewsto determine whether or not theyare some kind of entity, then wemust conclude that these

thoughts individually are neither one thing northe coming together of many things. Therefore,they have no essence. Wrong views or thoughts ofwrong views are things that never truly arise andwhich have no substantial essence.

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Since these fourmistaken views donot reallyexist, that whicharises from them�

the three mainafflictions:ignorance,attachment, andaversion�also donot really exist

Four basic types of mistaken views are de-scribed. One of them is to take what is imperma-nent to be permanent. But if we look at imperma-nence and permanence we can see that both ofthem are only dependent ideas. There is no waythat anything can be permanent without one�shaving some idea of what impermanence is.Similarly, if you were to say that something isimpermanent, impermanence is not somethingthat is truly existent because that depends onpermanence. So neither of these inherently exists.

The next type of wrong view is to take thatwhich is clean to be unclean. But again, what isclean? Clean means that which is not unclean.And unclean is that which is not clean. So you cannever find out what either of these things is. Itjust goes back and forth. They don�t truly exist.

The third mistaken view is to take that whichis not a self to be a self. Again, what is nonself? Itis that which is not a self. Well, what is a self? It isthat which is not a nonself. You cannot figure itout. You cannot find out what these things inher-ently are.

The fourth mistaken view is totake that which is unhappiness to behappiness. Well then, what is happi-ness? It is that which is not unhappi-ness. What is unhappiness? It is thatwhich is not happiness.

And so again these things arejust dependently existent. They arenot truly existent. They are notinherently existent. They exist onlyfrom the perspective of our thoughts,which bring along with them theconcepts of their opposites. When wesee something that is clean or dirty,it is just as when we see somethingclean or dirty in a dream. You seesomething and you say, �Oh, this isclean.� But you can only say thatbecause you have some idea of what dirty is. Yousee something that is dirty and you say, �Oh, thisis dirty.� But you can only say that because youhave some idea of what clean is. Nothing is inher-ently clean or dirty. Just as when you see some-thing clean or dirty in a dream.

Since these four mistaken views do not reallyexist, that which arises from them�the threemain afflictions: ignorance, desire-attachment,and aversion-�also do not really exist. They haveno substantial essence. They are unborn. Theynever really arise.

We might think that the twelve links of cyclicexistence really exist, that dependent arising issomething real, that there really are things thatare produced by other things. And we might thinkthat there are things that are produced by thatwhich produces them:

Without a father there is no son, and without ason there is no father.

These two do not exist without depending oneach other.

Neither do they exist simultaneously.

The twelve links are exactly the same. (13)

Normally, the way that the twelve links ofdependent arising is traditionally explained isthat from the earlier ones come the later ones.

First there is ignorance. Thenthere is action taken in igno-rance. Then, as a result of thataction, there is a consciousnesswhich is born in a wombsomewhere in cyclic existence.And on and on, like that. Sothe later ones depend on theearlier ones. But actually, theearlier ones are just as depen-dent on the later ones as thelater ones are on the earlierones. Really you can�t saywhich one produces the otherone. So ignorance is just asdependent on action taken inignorance as this action isdependent on the ignorance. If

we go all the way to the end then we would saythat birth is just as dependent on aging and deathas aging and death are dependent on birth.

How can we demonstrate this to be true? Inworldly life, take the example of a father and son.Normally we say that the father produces the son

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We could say thatall of the difficulttimes that wemeet in thislife have nosubstantialexistence

*Editor�s note: Karma is, by definition, action and theresults of actions motivated by fundamental ignorance of thetrue nature of things, the consequent clinging to self andphenomena as dualistically and truly existent, and theafflictive mental states that arise from dualistic clinging.

and that the son is produced by the father. But ifyou think about it, then there is no way that youcould ever have a father without there being ason. No one is ever called father before there is ason, before there is a child. The father is just asdependent on the son as the sonis dependent on the father. Sowhich one is the producer andwhich one is the produced? Youcan�t really say. You can make thesame analysis with a mother anddaughter. It is the same exactthing.

We can also think about howthe eye perceives form in adream. No form in a dream existsbefore you see it. And similarly,the eye that sees does not exist before the formthat is seen is there. These two are equally depen-dent on each other. They are only existent in thesense that they are mutually dependent, andneither of them exists in any independent way.

Because the Buddha taught that compositephenomena, which come into being as a result ofdifferent things� coming together, do not trulyexist, we might then be inclined to think thatuncomposite phenomena truly exist, but theydon�t. This is taught in the next verse which says:

Composite and uncomposite [phenomena]

Are not many, are not one,

Are not existent, are not nonexistent, [and] arenot both existent and nonexistent.

These words apply to all phenomena [withoutexception]. (32)

If we made a reasoning out of this, we wouldsay that no composite phenomenon has any sub-stantial existence because composite phenomenaare neither one thing nor the coming together ofmany things. They neither exist, nor do they notexist.

The last line says that these words apply to allphenomena without exception, which means thatthe reasonings in this verse may be applied toanything. For example, we can say that all of themental states which afflict us, all of the kleshas,

have no substantial essence because they areneither one thing nor the coming together of manythings. Therefore, they are beyond either exist-ence or nonexistence. We could say that all of thedifficult times that we meet in this life have no

substantial existence. They don�treally exist, because they areneither one thing nor the comingtogether of many things. Andtherefore they transcend bothexistence and nonexistence.

For example, the suffering, thehard times, the difficult experi-ences that we have in a dreamdon�t really exist. But we thinkthat they do. So we are tricked. Weare confused into thinking that

they truly exist, so we suffer. When we considerthe suffering we experience from difficult circum-stances during the day, there is no difference. Weknow that once we wake up from a dream, we willrealize that these difficult experiences were reallynonexistent. The suffering that we experienceduring the day is of the same nature. It is onlybecause we think that these appearances of suffer-ing are real that we suffer; we don�t suffer as aresult of the appearances themselves.

We might think that the cycle of existence isreal, that existence is real because the body seemssomething real. We might think that the actionsthat the body takes are real and that the afflictivemental states which propel those actions are real.The next verse refutes these notions:

[Defiled] actions have afflictions as their cause,

And the afflictions themselves arise due to[defiled] actions.

The body [also] has [defiled] actions as its cause,

So all three are empty of essence. (37)

The karma* that we accumulate, the actionswhich are defiled by our afflicted mental states ofeither desire or anger or indifference/apathy, don�t

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If phenomenawere trulyexistent, whatwould thatmean? It wouldmean thatthey existedindependently ofany causes andconditions

truly or inherently exist because they depend onafflictive mental states to occur. They are com-pletely dependent on something else for theirexistence. They are not inherently existent orindependently existent in any way. Similarly,afflictive mental states rely on actions as theircause. When you take an action out of desire oranger or indifference, what does it produce? Itproduces more desire or more anger or moreindifference.

Similarly, another way to think about this isthat the result of these actions is some sentientbeing, some consciousness somewhere. And ifthere were no sentient being, how could there beany afflictions? How could there be any afflictedmental states? In that way too, the afflictionsarise as a result of actions. So the afflictions arenot something inherently existent. They arecompletely dependent on something else.

And the body, is that something real? Is thatsomething independently existent? No, it exists asa result of actions. The body is the fruit, theripened result, of taking certain actions in thepast. Based on whatever actions you take in thepast, you wind up with some kind of body. So thisbody is not something inherently or independentlyexistent either.

Therefore, since these three�afflictions,actions, and the body�are dependently existent,what does that say? It says that really they don�ttruly exist. They don�t exist in the ultimate sense.They don�t have any substantialessence. In terms of what is truereality, they don�t exist.

It is like the body you havewithin a dream. You dream andyou have different types of thingsrunning around in your mind. Youdream that, because of whateveris going on in your mind, you doall types of different things. All ofthese doings are just mere ap-pearances. They have no sub-stance. They are not real.

To illustrate how it is thatphenomena are mere appearancesdue to the coming together of

causes and conditions while having no materialsubstance, many different examples are given inthe next verse. It says:

All formations are like unrealcities in the sky,

Illusions, mirages, falling hairs,

Foam, bubbles, phantoms,

Dreams and wheels of fire�

They have absolutely no core or substance tothem. (66)

All formations are lacking inherent substance,because they are just mere appearances that arisedue to the coming together of causes and condi-tions. They are like unreal cities in the sky, likeillusions, like mirages, like falling hairs that onesees when one has an eye disease, like foam andbubbles, like phantoms and appearances indreams; and like wheels of fire, which one seeswhen a torch is spun around in space at night andproduces the appearance of a wheel that reallyisn�t there.

The next verse reads:

The unequaled Thus Gone One

Explicitly taught that

Since all entities are empty of any inherentnature,

All phenomena are dependently arisen. (68)

Why is it that the Buddhataught that phenomena aredependently arisen? It is becausethey are empty of any inherentnature. Since they are empty ofany inherent nature, the Buddhataught that they are dependentlyarisen.

If phenomena were trulyexistent, what would that mean?It would mean that they existedindependently of any causes andconditions. It would mean thatthey existed in a permanentfashion that didn�t depend onanything else. If phenomena were

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When youunderstanddependentarising, you areno longerensnared inthe net ofwrong views

really like that, there would be no reason to teachabout dependent arising, because nothing wouldneed to arise in dependence on anything else. It isbecause phenomena do not have any inherentessence of their own, that they are not indepen-dent and, therefore, have no other way to exist butdependently, that the Buddha taught dependentarising. The Buddha taught that they rely ondifferent causes and conditions for their appear-ance.

The last verse talks about the advantages ofunderstanding this truth of dependent arising. Itsays:

When one understands that �this arose fromthose conditions,�

The net of wrong views is lifted.

One abandons desire, ignorance and aversion,

And attains the undefiled state of nirvana. (73)

When you understand dependent arising, youare no longer ensnared in the net of wrong views,which entail either thinking that things are reallysubstantially existent or thatthere is just nothing at all.Samsaric beings cling to one orthe other of these thoughts.Dependent arising shows thatnone of the things that you mightthink of are substantially exis-tent. So, you are led to an under-standing of the true reality,which is freedom from all of thesedifferent types of ideas. Whenthat happens, you naturallyabandon desire, ignorance, andaversion. You abandon all of themental afflictions and attain thestate of nirvana, which is not stained by any ofthem.

This has been a brief explana-tion of some important verses from

Nagarjuna�s Seventy Stanzas on Emptiness. Whatwe need to do is compare the reasonings used inthese verses with the reasonings used in theverses from the Sixty Stanzas of Reasoning. If we

do that, then understanding both of them willbecome easier. This is also connected with what isexpressed by Götsangpa, the great yogi, in hissong The Eight Flashing Lances.

[Next Rinpoche gives the transmission forGötsangpa�s song: Melody of the Eight Types ofNon-Duality. See Page 10 for complete text.]

This song takes eight pairs of opposites andshows that in the true nature of things, theseopposites do not truly exist. The nonexistence ofthese opposites is described by the terms dualityand equality, equality in the sense that all thingsare in their true sense equal. This is taught inboth the great vehicle, mahayana, and in thetantric vehicle, vajrayana. It is taught in bothvehicles that, in terms of true reality, nirvana andsamsara are indistinguishable, unidentifiable, andinseparable. This is easy to understand if we thinkabout a dream. We may think things� appearing ina dream to be very contradictory to each other, butin reality these things do not exist. Therefore,there is no difference among them.

For example, if we dream of being bound up iniron chains, and then of being setfree, these two events appear to beopposite to each other, but inreality there were no such occur-rences. None of it ever really hap-pened. In terms of true reality,neither state�being bound orbeing unbound�had any sub-stance, so there was no essentialdifference between them. Youmight also dream of seeing some-thing that seems very clean andpure, and in the same dream ofseeing an appearance that lookscompletely disgusting and very

dirty. But these are just appearances; there is nosubstance to them. It is only from the perspectiveof our thoughts that there is clean and dirty�from the perspective of true reality there is nosuch distinction. That is why true reality is said tobe devoid of two: because none of these distinctionsactually exists. It is also said to be the equality of allthe mental distinctions which are made in thoughtbut which are not real.

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Dharmakaya isthe expanse oftrue reality. . . . Itis the equality ofself and other

It is taught that samsara and nirvana areindistinguishable, that they are not separable inany way. If we think about the nature of a dream,we will understand what the root of our confusionis. All of the appearances in adream are appearance and empti-ness inseparable. They appear butthey are empty of any substance atthe same time. Yet we take them tobe true and real, because we arenot aware of their true nature. Wehave a dream and we think thateverything in that dream is real.We interact with it as though itwere real and so we suffer as aresult. If, on the other hand, we have a dream,and at the same time we know that it is just adream, then whatever happens is not a problem.Whatever happens we know to be merely a dreamappearance. Whatever it is an appearance of, weknow that it is merely appearance and emptinessinseparable. None of the distinctions that we seeand hear in the dream really exist. Then, what isthe true nature? The true reality is beyond therebeing any distinction or not being any distinction.The true reality is beyond any of these thoughtsthat we might have about it.

Question: Can you say something more about theterm that is translated as �characteristics?� Andalso the term that is translated as �substantial-ity?�

Rinpoche: Characteristics are basically whatdefines things. For example, if you have a dreamof something clean, what tells you that it is clean?These are its characteristics. These are thingswhich are imputed by thought. Nothing in theappearance itself is clean from its own perspective,but it is because of A, B, and C that it is thoughtto be something clean. The A, B, and C are itscharacteristics, the characteristics of cleanliness.Similarly, we can dream of something and say,�Oh, this is dirty.� From its own perspective it isneither clean nor dirty, but, because of A, B, andC, we say that it is dirty. A, B, and C are thecharacteristics that we say dirtiness has. That is

what characteristics means.Then the term substantial, as in substantially

existent, is a translation of the Tibetan word rangbzhin, which means �by its nature,� or �by its

essence.� When we say thatsomething is substantially exis-tent or naturally existent, essen-tially existent, what we mean isthat it does not exist in depen-dence on anything else. It existsfrom its own side. It exists with-out depending on other causesand conditions.

For example, if a dream firewere really existent or substan-

tially existent, then it would have to burn some-thing. It would have to perform the function ofburning something. But it doesn�t. It is just a mereappearance. It is not something real or substan-tially existent. Also, if we think about self andother, if self and other were substantially orinherently existent, then they would exist withoutdepending on each other. But we can see that selfand other are just dependently arisen concepts.They don�t exist independently or inherently. Wecan see quite easily that nothing is inherently selfand nothing is inherently other. These are merelydependent concepts that arise because we thinkabout things in relation to ourselves. When wethink about this [Rinpoche points to himself] it is�I.� Somebody else looks at this [still pointing tohimself] and it is �you,� it is �other.� I look at thisand I say �I.� You look at this and you say �you.�So what is this? Sometimes it is �I.� From myperspective it is �I.� From your perspective it is�other.� From my perspective that [Rinpochepoints at another person] is �other.� From hisperspective it is �I.� So what is it? It is neither.These concepts are only dependently existent. Selfand other are not inherently or independentlyexistent.

From understanding this, we will understandthe true equality of self and other, that in the truenature there is no such distinction. A great siddhanamed Dombe Heruka sang a verse in which hesaid, �From the dharmakaya, where self and otherare of the nature of equality, I have compassion

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Compassiondoes notinherently exist;it is dependentlyarisen

*Editor�s note: Therefore phenomena do not ultimatelyarise, are not ultimately born, and if they do not arise or arenot born, they do not, therefore, truly exist. And if they donot truly exist, then they are said to be empty of inherentexistence, and therefore are said to be empty. Therefore allphenomena are appearance and emptiness inseparable.

for all beings who still cling to ideas of good andbad.� Dharmakaya is true reality. It is the ex-panse of true reality. What is that? It is the equal-ity of, or the lack of any distinction between, selfand other. Having realized that, Dombe Herukafeels compassion for all beings who are still con-fused and still think that self and other reallyexist and, therefore, cling to ideas of some thingsbeing good and some things being bad.

The characteristics which tell us that this is�I,� and the characteristics whichtell somebody else that this is�other,� do not truly exist. Theyexist only in dependence onsomething else. It is like that.

Question: Would Rinpochekindly comment on how we mayunderstand compassion in light ofthese teachings on emptiness? Iscompassion something that is truly existent, or isit also only dependently existent?

Rinpoche: Yes, compassion does not inherentlyexist; it is dependently arisen. Compassion, first ofall, depends on there being other sentient beingsfor whom we may feel compassion. When wegenerate compassion, we think about how allsentient beings, in our past lives, have been ourparents and so have been very kind to us. As aresult of feeling gratitude for that kindness, wefeel compassion towards them, we feel that wewant to help them. This compassion depends onthem and it depends on our own thinking and ourown process of cultivating compassion and remem-bering it and being mindful of wanting to becompassionate towards others.

Question: Rinpoche mentioned five types ofreasonings that Nagarjuna used to demonstratethe truth of emptiness. He explained two of them.Could he describe what the other three are?

Rinpoche: Last night and tonight, we haveactually gone over a few of these different reason-ings. The first one is dependent arising. Phenom-ena do not truly exist because they are depen-

dently arisen. The second one is that phenomenado not truly exist because they are neither one normany. The third is to analyze the cause to seewhether or not the result exists at the time of thecause or does not exist at the time of the cause.

The fourth way to demonstrate emptiness is tolook at arising itself. This one is called the VajraThunderbolt Reasoning. It says that phenomenado not truly arise because they are never reallyborn. We can say that they are never born because

we can demonstrate that they arenot born from any of the fourpossibilities. They do not arisefrom themselves. They do not arisefrom something different fromthemselves. They do not arise bothfrom themselves and from some-thing different from themselves.And they don�t arise from some-thing that is neither themselves

nor different from themselves�in other words,they don�t arise without any cause.* That�s thefourth possibility.

The fifth reasoning is called the examination ofcause and effect together, and it is also called thereasoning that looks at the four possibilities. But,these are four different possibilities [from thosediscussed above]. By examination it demonstratesthat one result does not arise from one cause ormany causes and that many results do not arisefrom one cause or many causes. That�s what thefive reasonings are.

If we consider these five reasonings in terms ofstages, they would be in this order. First, youwould use the reasoning that examines the es-sence, or the substance, of phenomena�which isthe one that sees that they are neither one normany. Then you would look at the cause and seethat phenomena neither exist at the time of theircause nor do they not exist at the time of theircause. Then you would look at the cause andresult together, which is the examination of those

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last four possibilities. Then you would look atarising, the Vajra Thunderbolt Reasoning, and seethat phenomena do not ever really arise, becausethey do not arise from any of the first set of fourpossibilities that we mentioned. And finally, youwould understand that phenomena are just mereappearances because they are dependently arisen.

These five reasonings are the root of all thereasonings in the six collections of reasonings ofNagarjuna. [Nagarjuna wrote six different texts inwhich he expounded the view of the middle way.]There are many different branches of these rea-sonings, and many different ways you could usethem, but they all stem from these five.

Question: What is the reason why the father andthe son cannot exist simultaneously? If you seethem side by side, they seem to exist simulta-neously.

Rinpoche: The reason that they cannot existsimultaneously is that they no longer have therelationship of produced and producer. It is in thatcontext that they don�t exist simultaneously. If youare trying to say that one is the producer of theother, and then you find that you can�t say that,then you might say that maybe they exist simul-taneously. But you can�t say that because thenhow could they be cause and result? Two thingsthat exist at the same time don�t have the rela-tionship of cause and result. The cause has tocome before the result. If they both exist at thesame time, then they cannot be cause and result.

When we say that, the world�s response wouldbe, �Of course, the father exists before the son! Itwould be dumb to say that he didn�t.� But then theworld is making the mistake of thinking that one�smental continuum viewed over time is one thing.What you are saying is that what existed beforethe son was born, and then the father that existsafter the son is born, are the same thing. You aresaying that the person as he was before the sonwas born and the person as he is after the son isborn are exactly the same thing. But, of course,that is not the case. The way that phenomena areis just like in a movie. Movies are a very goodexample. We watch a movie and we see a person

and we say, an hour later, that that person hasshown up on the screen again and looks like thesame person. And so we say, �There is that personagain.� But really, a movie is just a series offrames. There is just one frame after another, andthere is no connection between any of the frames.Really there is absolutely nothing that is the samebetween one frame and another frame that ap-pears an hour later, but we think that there is. Weconfuse these different things to be the samething.

Another example would be going to a river andlosing our hat. Our hat flows away down thisriver. Then, we come back a year later and we say,�I lost my hat in this river.� But, all the waterfrom then is completely gone. That is the mistakeof taking many things and confusing them to beone. Or we can look at this butter lamp. We canlight the lamp and then come back in a few hoursand say, �Oh, the lamp is still lit.� But really, theflame that was there when we first lit the lampdisappeared immediately and was replaced byanother flame. Here is a completely differentflame. Again, that is what is called mistakingthings in a continuum to be the same thing. Reallythere is no such thing as a continuum, because acontinuum presupposes that something carriesover from one moment to the next. But nothing,absolutely nothing, carries over from one momentto the next. It is just like a number of finger snapsin a row. Here is a continuum of finger snaps, buteach snap is completely different from the last.Similarly, each moment relies on its own causesand conditions to come about and is replaced bysomething else which relies on completely differ-ent causes and conditions. For this reason, we canunderstand that things can exist neither as onething nor as many things. That their true natureis beyond both one and many. So they are emptyof any true existence.

In a dream, we have appearances of manydifference things. We have appearances of thingswhich look like they are one thing and we haveappearances of things that look like they aremany things. For example, we can see mountainsor people or all different kinds of things. Somethings look like they are one, some things look like

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they are many. But really, none of these things areeither one or many.

Question: If nothing carries over from one mo-ment to the next, then how can there be a conceptor memory of a continuum?

Translator: What I asked Rinpoche I broke downinto two parts. I said, �If there is no such thing asa continuum and there is really nothing thatcarries over, then, first, how do we remember pastthings? And, second, why do we have the thoughtthat there is a continuum?�

Rinpoche: In Buddhism there are differentexplanations of memory, depending on whichphilosophical school a person belongs to. Onephilosophical tradition is called the Mind Onlyschool (Cittimatra). What they say is that thereare two aspects to any experience. One is anoutward facing aspect which experiences all thedifferent things that are perceived, and one is aninward facing aspect which is called self-aware-ness, which means that the mind is aware of itsown experience. The mind is aware of its experi-ences, and so it can remember the past.

But according to the middle way, there is noassertion that there is self-awareness of the mind.What the middle way says is that memory, justlike everything else, is merely the coming togetherof causes and conditions. It is the mere comingtogether of causes and conditions, just as, if youhad a mirror and you had the proper causes andconditions, then a reflection would arise in themirror. Everything is just like that. It is the merecoming together of causes and conditions. Thingsdo not need a basis of any kind or some kind offoundation. Causes and conditions just cometogether in one moment, and then different onescome together in another moment, and that�s howall phenomena are.

The second part of the question was, �Why is itthat we think that there is a continuum, if therereally isn�t one?� We think that there is such acontinuum because the moments of the past andthe future look alike; they are similar. For ex-ample, this butter lamp looked the same five

minutes ago as it does now. Because things lookthe same, we think that they are, in fact, the samething. Even though absolutely nothing carriesover from one moment to the next, because onemoment looks similar to the next, then we confuseit to be exactly the same as the former one. It�slike that.

Question: I want to ask a question about energy.We have been thinking about appearances, suchas a flame, and how we perceive them. But whatabout the concept of the transfer of energy, or theconservation of matter and energy, and the factthat energy is neither gained nor lost. We knowabout that. Wouldn�t that be a continuum?

Translator: The way I have phrased the questionwas: These days scientists talk about energy orpower, and believe that power is something thatdoesn�t diminish. For example, the power thatpropels a rocket, which is thought not be expendedbut converted into something else. I don�t knowhow else to describe it. But what I have empha-sized is that power or energy is thought to besomething that is neither lost nor diminished.

Rinpoche: Maybe we could relate that to thepower that exists within the expanse of equalityfor all different kinds of appearances to arise. Alldifferent kinds of appearances can arise. Appear-ances of being clean and appearances of beingdirty. Appearances of all different kinds of things.They can all arise because of this power which isinherent in the true nature.

Questioner: I was thinking, would this be thesame? I was thinking that mind equals energy,since energy equals power, as far as the transla-tion. Is that correct?

Translator: Energy is power. Correct.

Questioner: And energy is also mind?

Rinpoche: The greatest power, according to themahayana, which is the great vehicle, is the[power that is inherent in the] true nature of

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In the highestschool of themiddle way, theConsequenceMiddle Wayschool(Prasangika),everything isrefuted

mind, which is of the nature of clear light. Of thetrue nature of mind there are many differentexplanations. The true nature of mind is said to bethat which pervades all things and, yet, is beyondall things. It pervades all things and, yet, is be-yond there being anything there topervade or there being anythingthat pervades. In the mahamudraand dzogchen teachings, there arealso many different explanations. Inthe vajrayana there is also theexplanation of the true nature asbeing bliss and emptiness insepa-rable. If we analyze the questionaccording to the middle turning ofthe wheel of dharma, according tothe middle way, then power orenergy is, again, just another con-cept. It is just a thought. Its truenature is beyond any ideas ofwhether it exists or doesn�t exist oris both existent and nonexistent, or neither exis-tent nor nonexistent Its true nature is beyond allof these different kinds of things. Thoughts aboutpower are simply dependently existent. To saythat there is energy that always exists, how couldthat be true? Thoughts about the existence ofanything, energy and power included, depend onthere being some idea of nonexistence. Such athought can not describe true reality. Similarly, ifyou say that energy is something that is nonexist-ent, that depends on an idea of something beingexistent. No thought, one way or the other, candescribe the true nature.

For example, we could have a dream of therebeing energy that was either existent or nonexist-ent. We could have a dream of energy being greator small. But in the true nature, what is reallythere? None of these things. So it is like that.

In the vajrayana, there are explanations of thegreat power of the inseparable bliss emptiness ofthe true nature. That is an explanation from theperspective of talking about and establishingthings as existent. But this explanation is accord-ing to the middle way. In the highest school of themiddle way, the Consequence Middle Way school(the Prasangika), everything is refuted. The

reason that they are able to refute everything,from their way of thinking, is that everything isjust a thought. Everything is just an idea. Even tosay that there is nothing is still just an idea. Tosay that there is great energy is one idea. To say

that there is no such thing isanother idea. The point of all ofthis, from the standpoint of themiddle way, is to get past allconceptualizing about the waythings are.

For example, in the song,Melody of the Eight Types ofNonduality, the second verse isabout visions of yidam deities onthe one hand and very fearsomeappearances of bad demons onthe other hand. Apparently theseare both powerful things indifferent directions. But neitherof them truly exists. So let�s sing

this song again!

[Melody of the Eight Types of Nonduality]

Now we will meditate according to the way wedid yesterday, which is to recite the verses one byone, and then meditate a bit on their meaning,one at a time, and then rest in a state that is freefrom any thoughts at all.

[Seventy Stanzas on Emptiness/Meditation]

This is a mode of meditation that is calledanalytical meditation. First we recite a verse.Then we think about the meaning of that verseuntil we have gained a degree of certainty aboutit. Then we rest the mind evenly in that certainty.

Now, in order to dedicate the merit of thevirtue we have accumulated by teaching, listeningto, and reciting the teachings, let us recite the lastverse from the Sixty Stanzas of Reasoning threetimes.

[Sixty Stanzas of Reasonings, last verse]

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�The one to whom we prostrate is the one who speakswords which cannot be refuted. We test these words andfind them to be completely valid and irrefutable by any

type of argument.�

Everything Is Just Appearanceand Emptiness Inseparable

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The following transcript continues Rinpoche�sseries of teachings. This is from June 19, 1997.

Rinpoche wishes everyone tashi delek thisevening, and makes the aspiration thatwe realize the ultimate truth, which is

pure being free from all concepts about what thatmight be, that we realize also that the mode ofappearances is that everything appears, but doesnot truly exist�like illusions, and dreams�andthat, as a result of realizing these two, we helplimitless sentient beings.

We will begin by reciting The Sixty Stanzas ofReasonings, and then Melody of the Eight Types ofNonduality.


As before, please give rise in your hearts to theprecious attitude of the great vehicle, mahayana,which is bodhicitta, the awakening mind. Tonight,from all of the topics that comprise the genuinedharma, we will explain some selected verses fromNagarjuna�s The Refutation of Criticism. [SeePage 11 for complete text.] It is one of the sixcollections of reasonings by Nagarjuna.

The first verse reads:

Dependently arisen entities

Are called �emptiness,�

[For] that which is dependently arisen

Is that which has no inherent nature. (22)

All entities that are arisen from causes andconditions are called emptiness; they are of thenature of emptiness. That which is dependentlyarisen, that which arises due to causes and condi-tions, has no inherent nature of its own. It has noindependent nature. This verse demonstrates thatwhatever dependently arises is necessarily emptyof true existence. Everything that is dependentlyarisen is pervaded by emptiness. There is nothingthat is dependently arisen which is somehowoutside of the scope of emptiness. Also, within theexpanse of emptiness all different types of thingsarise due to the coming together of various causesand conditions.

For example, when we have a dream all of thedifferent appearances that we see in a dream arisedue to various causes and conditions. All of theseappearances are empty. There is not one of theseappearances which has any substance or anyreality to it. Yet, within this emptiness, all of theseappearances arise due to these various causes andconditions. Similarly, all of the appearances of thislife, whatever they may be, arise due to the com-ing together of various causes and conditions.Therefore, all of the appearances of this life arepervaded by emptiness of any inherent or substan-tial existence. Yet, within the expanse that isemptiness all of these various appearances arisedue to the coming together of different causes andconditions.

Similarly, after we pass away from this lifeand before we take birth in the next life, weexperience the intermediate state, the bardo, andin that state all different kinds of appearancesarise. All of these appearances arise due to thecoming together of causes and conditions. None ofthem have any inherent or independent existence.Therefore, they are all pervaded by emptiness.Within emptiness all these appearances appearand arise due to the coming together of causes andconditions. That is why it is said in the greatvehicle, the mahayana, that the ten directions andeverything in the ten directions are just oneimmense buddha field of infinite extent. Why?Because everything in the ten directions is per-vaded by emptiness, and within this expanse ofemptiness, all of the various appearances arisedue to the coming together of various differentcauses and conditions. These appearances are alljust empty forms�they are inseparable form andemptiness.

In the same way, all appearances�whathappened in past lives and what may happen infuture lives, all appearances of actions and theeffects of actions�appear due to the comingtogether of various different causes and condi-tions. They are pervaded by emptiness, and withinemptiness they all arise.

Those who believed that things really existsaid to people who espoused the middle way, likeNagarjuna, �You say that all phenomena are

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empty. And if that is true, then your words arealso empty. And all your reasonings are empty.How can your reasonings do anything? If yourwords and your reasonings are empty of anysubstance, then how do they have the power torefute the ideas of others? How do they have thepower to describe what is the correct view?� Theanswer that Nagarjuna gave to them is in thisnext verse, which says:

One magical creation halts another,

One illusory being puts an end to

The wrong views of his illusory opponent.

When I refute the arguments of others, that is exactly what is happening.


It is as if you had one beingwho is a sort of magical creation,something which is just anappearance. This being is goingaround and looking at all theseother magical creations andthinking that they are real.Then, another magical creationcomes along and says, �Oh, really! This stuff is notreal; it is all just a bunch of magical tricks. Itdoesn�t have any substance to it at all.� Then thefirst magical creation says, �Oh, you�re right,that�s right.� So, that is what this is like. None ofthese creations and none of these events have tobe real in any way for this scenario to occur.

In the other example that is given, you haveone illusory being, and it is looking at all thisillusion, and it thinks that it is real. So, it has allkinds of problems because of that. Then anotherillusory being comes along and says, �This isreally not real. This is all illusion. And here�s why,for this, this, and this reason.� Then, the firstillusory being says, �Oh, that�s right.� And itrealizes that everything is an illusion. And thenits problems go away. That�s all it is.

We can think of the example of the dream. Wedream and in this dream we are confronted withall kinds of perils, like the threat of being burnedby fire, or being drowned in water, or being chased

by big fearsome tigers and lions. So we get veryfrightened because we don�t know that we aredreaming. Then, along comes someone in thedream who says, �You�re dreaming, don�t be afraid,you�re just dreaming. It�s not a problem.� So thenwe think that everything is okay. �I don�t have toworry about this. I am just dreaming. Thanks tothis nice person who told me all of this.�

There is no real problem because the problemwas that one was taking these appearances to bereal. First of all, there is really not anythinghappening in this dream. Second, the person whocomes along and tells us that all of this stuff is notreal but just a dream is also just part of the

dream. Their words are just part ofthe dream. All of the reasons forthe fear are just part of the dream.And then when we change ourmind, when our mind is relieved,that is also part of the dream.None of it has to be really happen-ing for it to happen. It is just anillusory series of appearances.

In the same way, all of theappearances in the cycle of exist-ence, all of the appearances in the

three realms of existence, are just like an illusionand like a dream. They are mere appearances thatare empty of any substantial existence or anyinherent nature. Because we take these appear-ances to be true, we suffer. That is the problem.But there is an antidote for that problem, and thatantidote is the practice of the dharma. Thedharma reverses our attachment to these appear-ances as being real. The crux of our problem isthat we take these appearances to be real. Thatdoes not mean that the dharma itself, in order toserve as an effective antidote, has to be somethingreal, either. The reasonings of the dharma do nothave to be something real, because they are allequally illusory, equally mere appearance.

Let�s recite this verse three times: [Recitationof preceding verse]

In case we don�t understand it yet, we getanother example:

Another example: suppose a man falls in love

The dharmareverses ourattachmentto theseappearances asbeing real

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Nagarjuna refutesall propositions.He refutes allideas, and he cutsthrough all objectsof focus

with an illusory woman,

Then another illusion comes along

And shows the man what a fool he has been�

That�s my work. (27)

Here is another example of looking at anillusion and thinking that it is something real.Here the example is an illusory woman. Someonesees an illusion of a beautiful woman created by amagician and thinks that it is real, causing alltypes of things to arise in their mind as a result ofthat. Then, the example showsanother illusion created by amagician that comes along andpoints to this illusory woman andsays that this is just an illusion.This is not something real and youare making a mistake to thinkthat it is. But just because theillusory being who comes alongand is able to show this personthat the woman is not a realwoman�that she is just an illu-sion�does not mean that the illusion doing theexplaining is something real, or that the wordsthat this second illusion speaks are somethingreal. They are just as illusory as the woman. Butthey still have the ability to reverse this person�sthought that this illusory woman is somethingreal.

According to the prajnaparamita sutras, whichare the sutras of the transcendent perfection ofwisdom, samsara, the cycle of existence, is emptyof any inherent or substantial existence. Nirvana,the transcendence of suffering, is also empty ofany inherent existence. Samsara, the cycle ofexistence, is just appearance and emptinessinseparable. Nirvana is just appearance andemptiness inseparable. None of the sentientbeings, none of us have any substance. We are justappearance and emptiness inseparable. Thebuddhas are just appearance and emptinessinseparable. Everything is just appearance andemptiness inseparable. And yet, when a suitableperson hears the words of the dharma, then theycan reverse their clinging to all of these things,

ourselves included, as being real. They can under-stand that it is all just like illusions�that it is alljust appearance and emptiness inseparable.

Then the opponents of Nagarjuna said to him,�Nagarjuna, you go around refuting everyoneelse�s view. What about your view? You have aview. You talk about emptiness as being theultimate truth. That view also has a flaw, because,as it is a view, it can also be refuted.�

Nagarjuna responded with a verse whichstates that if he had a position, then he wouldhave a flaw:

If I took a position,

Then I would have a flaw.

Since I take no position,

I have no flaw at all. (29)

Nagarjuna said that when hetaught about the ultimate truthbeing empty of all elaborationsand of all the different thoughtsabout what it might be, he wasrefuting everyone else�s ideas, but

that he had no ideas to posit himself. If he hadsome description of what the ultimate truth was,he said, �Then I would have a flaw. I would have aconcept about what ultimate truth is. But I don�thave any concepts of what ultimate truth is be-cause it is beyond concepts. I don�t have any view.�

Nagarjuna refutes all propositions. He refutesall ideas, and he cuts through all objects of focus.These three things. If Nagarjuna had some viewor some proposition, then he would have a flaw.But he doesn�t. If he had some idea, then he wouldhave a flaw, but he doesn�t. If he had any object offocus�in terms of the ultimate truth being this orthat�then he would have a flaw. But he doesn�t.Therefore, he has no flaw.

In the tradition of Nagarjuna, all views, allpropositions are refuted, but nothing is proposedin their place. All ideas are refuted, but nothing isthought of in their place. All objects that could befocused on are cut through, but nothing is focusedon in their place. Nagarjuna refutes the idea thatthings truly exist, but he does not say anythingelse. That is the end of the discussion. The reason

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If phenomenawere trulyexistent, solid,and unchanging,. . . you could notpossibly attainbuddhahood orany other level ofrealization, asnothing wouldever change

Nagarjuna does things in this way is that theultimate truth is something in which there are nonames at all. So there is nothing that can be saidabout it. The ultimate truth transcends all con-vention, all concepts, all terms. And so no termcan be applied to it. That is why Nagarjuna, oncehe refutes the views of others, does not proposeanything himself.

There were those who believed that thingstruly exist because they thought there were reallycauses and there were really results; there werethings that did the producing, and that there werethings that were produced. The next verse is aresponse to that type of view. It says:

If the son is produced by the father,

But the father is also produced by that very son,

Then will you please tell me,

Which one is the true �cause� and which the true�result?� (49)

Normally, we would think that the fatherproduces the son. We would say that the father isthe producer, and the son is the produced. But ifwe think about it, then there is no father beforethere is the son. Because there is a son, then wecall somebody father. And so the son isthe cause of this conventional term offather being applied. Therefore, if youtry to say that there really is a pro-ducer and there really is a produced�well, which one is it? Which one is theproducer, which one is the produced?You really can�t say. Either way, if youlook at it in another way, then you arewrong. This is Nagarjuna�s responseto this type of belief.

If we look at this question in termsof a gross view, in terms of a con-tinuum, then we say that the fatherproduces the son. But if we analyzethat continuum in terms of the indi-vidual moments, which are completelydistinct, and then try to find the exactpoint at which the producer producesand what is produced is produced, then we will see

that there is no way that one can come before theother. They exist only in dependence upon eachother. Therefore, one cannot exist before the otherone does. Therefore, it is nonsensical to speak ofone of them being the producer. If the producerdoes not exist before the produced, then how can itbe the producer of the produced?

Another criticism that was brought against thefollowers of the middle way, and againstNagarjuna in particular, by other Buddhist and bynon-Buddhists alike, was that, if phenomena werereally empty, if there were nothing that was trulyexistent, then that would mean that there wouldbe no such thing as cause and effect, there wouldbe no such things as past and future lives, therewould be no such thing as the three jewels, therewould be no such thing as attaining buddhahood.

In response to that, Nagarjuna composed thisverse:

If emptiness is possible,

Then all objects are possible, all levelsattainable.

If emptiness is impossible,

Then everything else is [impossible] as well. (70)

Here Nagarjuna argues thatthe actual situation is just thereverse of what these peopleclaimed. Only because phenom-ena are empty of true existencecan all of these different kinds ofappearances manifest. If phe-nomena were truly existent,solid, and unchanging, thenthere could not be a cause and aresult with respect to thesephenomena, because nothingwould ever change. You couldnot possibly attain buddhahoodor any other level of realization,as nothing would ever change.Everything would be indepen-dently existent�not affected bycauses and conditions. And

therefore no change would be possible.

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The teaching ofthe middle way,the teaching onemptiness, andthe teaching ondependent arising,all have the sameimport and thesame meaning

If we think about this in terms of past andfuture lives, we can understand that it is onlybecause they are empty of true existence thatthere can be past and future lives. It is dependentupon there being this life that we can have anyidea of a past life and a future life. This life is nowand the past life is before now, and the future lifeis after now. If there were no now, then how couldthe past before now and the future after nowexist? It is only because these things are depen-dently existent that we can have any concept ofthem as having any existence at all.

And similarly, this present life depends just asmuch on the past and the future. For if there wereno idea of past and future, you would have no ideaof what now was�as now is something which isnot the past and not the future. It is now. Now,this life, is just as dependent onpast lives and future lives, as pastand future lives are dependent onthis one.

Similarly, virtue is dependentupon nonvirtue; nonvirtue is depen-dent on virtue. Happiness is depen-dent upon unhappiness; and unhap-piness is dependent on happiness.Therefore, we can have ideas, wecan have concepts of cause andeffect, we can have the result ofperforming virtuous actions beinghappiness; and the result of nega-tive actions being suffering. Andalso, because phenomena do nottruly exist, we can practice thedharma, and the dharma can be a remedy forsuffering and the afflictions. The afflictive mentalstates are only the result of certain causes andconditions. Suffering is the result of certain causesand conditions. Therefore, the dharma, which isalso just the result of certain causes and condi-tions, and therefore also a mere illusion, is able toalter the causes and conditions that are the causeof the afflictive mental states and suffering. It canchange them, eliminate them, be a successfulantidote for them. It is only because these thingsare the results of causes and conditions that all ofthis is possible�that it is possible for the dharma

to be an effective antidote.The last verse reads:

I prostrate to the Awakened One, the Buddha,

Who taught that dependent arising andemptiness have the same meaning,

And that this is the middle way path.

Your words are supreme, their meaningunsurpassed. (Concluding homage)

This is a prostration to the Buddha, becausethe Buddha taught dependent arising. That is thereason why Nagarjuna prostrates to the Buddha.Also, Nagarjuna points out to us that dependentarising, emptiness, and the middle way path,which is free from all extremes, have the exact

same meaning. They are thesame teaching. The teaching ofthe middle way, the teaching onemptiness, and the teaching ondependent arising, all have thesame import and the samemeaning. Because the Buddhataught this, the Buddha�s wordsare supreme, and the meaning ofthe Buddha�s words is unsur-passed. For this reason,Nagarjuna prostrates to theBuddha.

The Buddha taught thatdependent arising and empti-ness have the same meaningand are inseparable. This is not

something that can be harmed or refuted byreasoning. Because the Buddha�s teachings aboutdependent arising and emptiness cannot be de-feated by reasoning, Nagarjuna prostrates to theBuddha. This is the manner in which homage ispaid in a tradition grounded in reasoning. The oneto whom we prostrate is the one who speaks wordswhich cannot be refuted. We test these words andfind them to be completely valid and irrefutable byany type of argument. For that reason we pros-trate to that person�not for any other reason.

The Buddha Shakyamuni himself said thatnobody should accept anything as true before they

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Why is it we canbe happy, in fact,have sheerdelight, whenobstacles arise?

had analyzed it themselves. He said, �You shouldonly accept what I say, based on your own analy-sis of it, not out of respect for me.� He comparedthe situation to a merchant buying gold. A mer-chant buying gold would never accept the gold juston faith, but would test it by their own means tosee if it were real. And if it were real, they wouldbuy it, and if it were not real, they would not buyit.

If, on the other hand, it is a tradition in whichyou believe what the teacher says�because youhave faith in that teacher, and faith in thatteacher as being great, then you believe what theteacher says on faith�then that is a traditionthat is based on faith.

[Recitation of Seven Delights. See Page 12 forcomplete text.]

This song is very much inaccord with the view of

Nagarjuna as expressed in thetexts we have studied the lasttwo nights and in the text, TheRefutation of Criticism, that wehave studied tonight. The firstverse talks about whether or notthere are thoughts arising. Thetruth is that whether or not there are thoughtsarising, in the ultimate truth, in actual reality,there is no difference. In the ultimate truth thereis no distinction between thoughts arising and notarising. Thoughts arising is just emptiness andappearance inseparable, and thoughts not-arisingis also appearance and emptiness inseparable.They are both just dependently existent ideas.Whether or not they happen does not make anydifference once you have realized the ultimatetruth.

The reason why we can be happy if kleshasarise, if afflictive mental states arise, is thatkleshas themselves are empty of any substance.They are just mere appearance. And any antidotewe might try to apply to remove afflictive mentalstates would also be just a mere appearance andnot real. The true nature is of the nature of equal-ity of both the afflictions and of any antidote we

might apply. This true nature is the true nature ofmind; it is clear light�and the realization of thatis sheer delight. Why is it that we can be happy, infact, have sheer delight, when obstacles arise? It isbecause, whether obstacles arise or they don�tarise, neither is a real or inherently existent state.They are just dependently existent. When ob-stacles arise that depends upon some idea of therenot being any obstacles; and there not being anyobstacles depends on some idea of when there areobstacles. So they are just dependently existentideas. And that is to say that they are not exis-tent. To say that they are not existent is to saythat they are of the nature of equality; and to saythat they are of the nature of equality, is to saythat they are of the nature of clear light. Whetheror not they arise�if one says that one is facingobstacles, or that one has no obstacles�these are

just dependently arisen ideas, notreal. When you realize that, thenthat is an experience of sheerdelight.

Why is it an experience of sheerdelight when we are suffering inthe pits of samsara? The reason isthat the pits of samsara and thepinnacle of nirvana are just depen-dently existent. To say that they

are dependently existent is to say that one existsonly in dependence on the other and vice versa.And that is to say that they really do not exist.They are of the nature of equality. It is the samewith happiness and unhappiness. Happiness andsuffering exist only in dependence on each other.To say, �this is suffering,� depends on some idea ofwhat happiness is. To say, �this is happiness,� doesnot truly exist because that depends on havingsome idea of what suffering is. To say that theyare dependently existent is to say that they arereally not existent. They are like happiness andsuffering in a dream.

We can have different kinds of happiness anddifferent kinds of suffering in a dream. But theseexperiences are not truly existent. Therefore thelast line says: When karmic consequences bloom,delight. Well, karmic consequences bloomingmeans the results of actions we have taken in the

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on some idea of what sickness is like. Realizingthe true nature of suffering from sickness to beequality is also an occasion for delight.

When Götsangpa sings about illness, he issinging from his own experience. Götsangpabecame quite painfully sick for long periods oftime when he was practicing in retreat. But henever left his retreat to go see a doctor or to go toa hospital. Since there were no doctors where hewas meditating high up in the rocks, he did notrely on doctors or medicine to try to get well.

Instead he took his illness to thepath. Since he brought his illnessto the path, the illness, in fact,became a catalyst for his realiza-tion. Eventually, when he becamerealized, his illness completelywent away of its own accord. Sothis verse is something fromGötsangpa�s own experience.

There are a couple of reasonswhy Tibetan yogis and yoginis donot go to see doctors. One reasonis that, when they get sick, thenthat experience provides a goodopportunity to realize the truenature. And that is an experienceof delight. Moreover, should theyhappen to die while they are inretreat, since that is the best wayto die, why would they ever wantto go to a doctor? [laughter]Milarepa sang a song called, Howall my wishes can come true. One

verse of that song says, �If I die in this retreat, allalone, then this yogi�s wish will come true.�Milarepa sang his song before he passed away in acave. This shows the extent of his commitment.Even when he was dying, he still stayed in a cave.Tibetan caves are quite nice and dry, so you canstay there both in the summertime and the win-tertime.

Why can we have sheer delight at the point ofdeath? Because it is an extraordinary opportunityto realize the true nature of mind, which is clearlight. What happens when you die is that allthoughts dissolve into clear light. If you meditate

past, particularly the bad ones that result insuffering. Whether they happen or they do nothappen, they do not truly happen, becausewhether they do or they do not is again just de-pendently existent�and not truly existent. Interms of relative truth we can be happy when wehave suffering because that experience is thecleansing or the purifying of the seed of some badaction which we have sown in the past. Once weexperience its result we will never have to experi-ence it again. We can have that attitude towardssuffering in terms of its mode ofappearance. In terms of the ulti-mate truth we know it to be nottruly existent. Then when it hap-pens it is an experience of delight.

Suffering from illness is, again,the result of some negative actionstaken in the past. So the result weexperience now is illness, sickness.And again, we can experiencedelight when illness comes becausewe know that that is the purifica-tion of those negative actions. Wewon�t have to experience the ripen-ing of that particular karma again.The suffering of illness also givesus the opportunity to practicetonglen, the practice of taking andsending, which is a very importantpractice in the mahayana. Whenyou experience the suffering ofillness, in the practice of tonglenyou pray that all the suffering ofillness of all sentient beings ripens in you at thatmoment. You take in all the suffering of othersand you send out your own happiness, your ownjoy, and you imagine that others experience thathappiness and joy. When we suffer sickness wehave the experience of empathy with others, so itis a very good time to practice tonglen. In terms ofunderstanding its ultimate nature we understandthat whether sickness arises or does not arise, it isjust a dependent concept. It depends on ourthoughts. When we have an idea that we are sick,it depends on a thought of not being sick; andwhen we have an idea of not being sick, it depends

We canexperience delightwhen illnesscomes becausewe know that thatis the purificationof those negativeactions. Wewon�t have toexperience theripening of thatparticular karmaagain

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If we are experiencing a time in our lives wheneverything is going great, and we have a great job,a lot of money, different kinds of things, and weare surrounded by all our friends all the time andnever encounter anyone whom we don�t like, thenwhat happens is that our pride increases. Webecome arrogant about our condition and abouthow everything is going so great for us. Havingmore pride leads to more jealousy, because some-body might look better than we, and we mightbecome jealous of them. Also, when everything isgoing great for us, we get distracted. Why shouldwe want to practice the dharma? We think, �I don�thave to practice right now.� So we get distracted.

These are all bad things, and theyall come from having good circum-stances. On the other hand, whenwe have bad circumstances, whenthings are tough, we have noreason to feel proud. Our pridediminishes, and correspondinglyjealousy diminishes, and then wepractice the dharma. For thisreason dharma practitioners thinkthat bad circumstances are muchbetter than good ones. It is likethat.

When we recite fromGötsangpa, we should know thatthis is a song sung from his ownexperience. We should have theexact same delight as he did, the

same type of delight that he had toward all ofthese things. This is quite difficult, but it is impor-tant for us to know what realization is like, whatthe experience of realization is like when yourealize that all appearances are just like illusions,just appearance and emptiness inseparable. Theultimate truth is the true nature of mind, which isclear light. We should know what that realizationis like and how Götsangpa experienced it.

[Recitation of Seven Delights]

Now what questions are there? If there arequestions about the Refutation of Criticism, orabout the Seven Delights, please ask.

on the clear light nature of mind at that time,then it is like uniting with your mind�s own clearlight nature because your thoughts naturally dothat at the point of death. And then all thoughts ofbirth and death�for example: �I�m going to die,I�m going to die,� those kinds of thoughts�areself-liberated in the expanse of dharmakaya. So,dead, and not dead, are just two notions that aredependent upon each other. If you have the idea,�I am not dead,� it depends on some idea that �Iam dead,� and vice versa. For that reason they arejust dependently existent; and to say that they aredependently existent is to say that they are nonex-istent.

Another way to think aboutthis is to think about how peopledie. They have a thought, �Oh I�mdying, I�m dying,� and then theyare dead. So where is death?There is no actual point of death.Between that thought, �I�m dying,I�m dying,� and being dead thereis nothing. Therefore, there is nodeath. Death has no essence. If werealize that�that there is nodeath, that death has no es-sence�at the point of death, thenthoughts of death are said to beliberated into the dharmakaya.

Why is it that we can experi-ence sheer delight when badcircumstances happen? In termsof the relative truth, the truth of appearances,when bad things happen, we practice the dharmamore. [laughter] That is a good reason to be happywhen we are in bad circumstances, because wepractice more. We remember to practice thedharma. In terms of the ultimate nature of badcircumstances, then again, bad circumstances arejust dependent for their existence on some idea ofwhat good circumstances are, and vice versa. Andso, to say that they are dependently existent is tosay that they are not existent. To say that theyare not existent is to say that their nature is clearlight. To say that their nature is clear light, torealize their true nature of being, is to experiencesheer delight.

If we realize that�that there is nodeath, that deathhas no essence�at the point ofdeath, thenthoughts of deathare said to beliberated into thedharmakaya

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Question: Rinpoche, dependent arising is oftenused to show that an entity�s true nature is empti-ness. Yet cause and effect is proven not to occur asin the argument about arising. Are not dependentarising and cause and effect basically the samething? And if so, how can both arguments be used?In Western philosophy this sort of sounds likecircular reasoning, which is rejected as falsereasoning. So if it is true, how, coming from thestandpoint of Western philosophy, can I betterunderstand?

Rinpoche: Nagarjuna refutes the true existenceof cause and effect, that cause and effect is some-thing real. He refutes dependent existence asbeing something real, but he does not attempt todeny that there is the mere appearance of thingsarising due to merely apparent causes and merelyapparent conditions, just like what happens in adream.

Dependent existence is like the moon thatappears in a pool of water. First you have themoon in the sky, then you have a cloudless night,and you have a clear pool of water on the ground.Dependent on that, you have an appearance of themoon in the water, which is just a mere appear-ance, just a reflection.

Dependent existence is like the eye that seesand the form that is seen in a dream. Dependentexistence is like bondage and liberation in adream. Dependent existence is like clean andunclean in a dream.

What these examples are trying to point us tois the understanding that all phenomena are justappearance and emptiness inseparable. There aremany different examples given of empty forms,forms which appear but have no substantial ortrue existence. The ultimate truth is equality, thecomplete freedom from all of these elaborations ofcauses and conditions and all of those differentkinds of things. These refutations that Nagarjunaaddresses to his opponents are also appearanceand emptiness inseparable, just like illusions andjust like magical creations, which are taught inthis text.

Question: Could you please say some more words

about how to take illness to the path?

Rinpoche: First we start out by understandingthat thoughts like, �I am really sick,� or �I am justa little sick,� or �I am sick,� or �I am not sick,� areall just dependently arisen; they exist only independence on each other. Which is to say thatthey don�t really exist. So it is like having experi-ences in a dream. You can have a dream andthink, �Wow, I am really sick,� or �I am just a littlesick,� or �I am not sick,� or �I am just sick,� or �Iam a sicko,� or whatever, but all of these thoughtsin the dream are just dependently existent, whichis to say that they are not truly existent. Sicknessis not something that truly exists, it exists only independence upon our thoughts.

So we need to realize that, and this is part ofthe process of gaining certainty about the view.Because the view is that appearances are justillusions. They are just appearance and emptinessinseparable, just like the appearances that arisein dreams. Different things can appear in dreams;none of them have any reality. They are justappearance and emptiness inseparable. Gainingcertainty in the view means gaining certaintyabout this understanding of the mode of appear-ance. In terms of the mode of ultimate reality, themode of ultimate reality is the equality of all thesedifferent kinds of things, which is emptiness. Sowe gain certainty about that, and then we rest inmeditation. We rest the mind in meditative equi-poise within this emptiness, within the emptinessof all these different kinds of ideas. That is how totake illness to the path.

So the yogis in Tibet have a saying, �My bodyis not sick, my thoughts are sick.� The body is notreally sick, our thoughts are sick. So when youthink about it, think about a dream. Think aboutwhen you have a dream of being sick. Your bodyhas no sickness; your thoughts are the ones thatare sick. And so that helps us realize that sicknessis only something that exists in our thoughts. It�sreally not something truly existent.

According to the middle way of approachingthis, we use our intelligence. We use our intelli-gence to analyze what is the ultimate truth. Weask the question: What is actually happening

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First, youremember theview. Once youhave gainedcertainty in theview, you restthe mind inmeditation

here? What is the mode of appearance, and whatis the mode of true reality? And so what we find isthat true reality is free from all of these differentthoughts. None of these thoughts can express thetrue reality because all of thesethoughts are just dependent onsomething else. So they can�t bereally true. What is true reality?It just depends on how you lookat it�the reality that yourthoughts create depends on howyou are looking at it. You can�tdescribe true reality. And so inthe middle way, what we do iswe use our intelligence to under-stand that and to gain certaintyabout it, and then, once we havegained certainty about it, weremember it again and again.And then, when we meditate, we rest the mindevenly without any thoughts at all.

One way to do this is to meditate right uponthe very feeling of sickness. When we have afeeling of sickness, we use our intelligence, whichtries to determine what is really the truth, to seethat this sickness has no essence. And then werest in that, in true reality which is free fromthoughts about the sickness. If we have an espe-cially strong, intense feeling of sickness, then,when the thought stops, there is an experience ofgreat power. The stronger the feeling is, when thethought that takes it to be real stops, the strongerand more powerful the realization is.

One way we can analyze is to base our reason-ing on the fact that there is no �I,� that there is notruly existent self of the individual. When we aresick, and we have the thought of �Oh, I�m sick,� we

can say, �Well, who is sick?� Findthis �I.� The individual or the �I� isthe name that we throw onto thefive aggregates,* but try to find thistruly existent �I� amongst these fiveaggregates�the one aggregate ofthe body and the four of the mind.Where is this �I�? Where is it? Ifyou do that, you will realize youcannot find it. You cannot find the�I� anywhere. And so, if there is no�I,� if there is nobody to get sick,then sickness can�t exist. There isnobody to get sick.

This is a method that again isbased on reasoning, on using your intelligence.You use your intelligence to figure out what is thetruth, and once you�ve done that, then you justrest in that. In this instance, you look for the �I�until you realize you cannot find it, and then yourest in not being able to find it.

So, we have to think about how it is in adream, and why, in a dream, we suffer as a resultof illness. We suffer when we have a dream ofbeing sick because we think in this dream that weare real. That is the mistake of clinging to an �I�where there is no �I.� We think the sickness issomething real. That is making the mistake ofthinking that a phenomenon which doesn�t haveany substance, has substance, that it exists.Because of these two mistakes�even though,because it is just a dream, there is no �I� and nosickness�we suffer. If we think about that, wecan apply that in the daytime when we feel sick-ness. And that will help our view. It will be an aidto gaining the correct view.

It is just like the suffering we experience as aresult of thinking about the future. We thinkabout the future a lot, and as a result of that wesuffer a lot. We have thoughts about the futurelike, �Oh, I�m going to get old, and when I�m old,who�s going to take care of me?� We suffer as aresult of thoughts like that. But really, there is no

*Editor�s note: The five aggregates, or the five skandhas inSanskrit, are five aggregates of phenomena, which make upindividuals and their experience. They are form (Sanskrit:rupa; Tibetan: gzugs), feeling (San: vedana; Tib: thsorwa),perception (S: samjña; T: �du-shes), formation (S: samskara;T: �du-byed), and consciousness (S: vijñana; T: rnam-par-shes-pa.) All aspects of an individual�s experience of her/hisworld or his/her mind can be subsumed under these fivecategories. In the confused state, we cling to one or anotheraspect, or to a collection of aspects, of these five categories ofexperience as being a concrete self. When the aggregates areactually seen accurately, no self is found in them, eithersingly or taken together. Moreover, one does not find anindividual apart from them. Ultimately, the aggregates, orskandhas, which are merely analytical constructs forcategorizing an individual�s experience, are empty of inher-ent existence, as are all individuals, and as are all aspects oftheir experience.


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�I.� We think that there is an �I� in the future, andas a result of that first mistake we suffer. Andthen we take the future to be something real. Butwhere is the future? The future is nowhere. Youcan�t find it anywhere. It is not really existent.The future is nowhere to be found. That is calledthe mistake of taking phenomena which are nottruly existent to be truly existent. Based on thesetwo mistakes we suffer, whereas, if we realize thatwe are making these mistakes, then we won�tsuffer anymore as a result.

So in short, this has been an explanation ofhow to take sickness to the path, and to sum it allup, first you remember the view. You think aboutthe view. Once you have gained certainty in theview, you rest the mind in meditation. Just rest itevenly. And the more you get accustomed to thisand the more you meditate on this, the easier andeasier it will be to take sickness to the path.

In the Guide to the Bodhisattva�s Way of Life,the bodhisattva Shantideva says that once youstart to meditate, whatever happens, it is easy. Itis like that.

So tonight we have explained in briefNagarjuna�s text called The Refutation of

Criticism and the song of Götsangpa called SevenDelights. If we think about these again and again,if we meditate on these again and again in connec-tion with each other, then that would be verygood. So now we have studied Sixty Stanzas ofReasonings, Seventy Stanzas on Emptiness, and The

Refutation of Criticism, all by Nagarjuna, andGyalwa Götsangpa�s songs, Eight Flashing Lances,Melody of the Eight Types of Nonduality, and SevenDelights. These are the words of the great scholarand of a great siddha, a great meditation master,and, if we think about these in connection with eachother, then that is very good. Sometimes if you all,on a weekend, can get together and recite someverses and sing some songs together and meditateon them, then that would be very good. If you recitethe words and meditate on the words, then thewords have great power. So now let�s recite theverses from The Refutation of Criticism, one by one,and meditate in between.

[Recitation of The Refutation of Criticism]

In the madhyamika tradition there are twotypes of meditation. Once you have determinedthat all phenomena are empty, one tradition is torest in that emptiness which is like space. And thesecond type is just to rest the mind completelyfree of any type of idea or concept at all. Themeditation on emptiness which is like space, thecomplete absence of any phenomena, is the medi-tation that is taught by the Autonomy MiddleWay school, the Svatantrika Madhyamika. Andthe meditation in which thoughts even of empti-ness cease, and there is absolutely no thought ofanything whatsoever, that is the meditationtaught by the Consequence Middle Way school,the Prasangika Madhyamika.

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In May of 1996, The Very Venerable KhenchenThrangu Rinpoche gave a series of teachings on the

practice of meditation. Previous issues have featuredtranscripts from that series. The following is the lastin the series, a transcript of Rinpoche�s teachings the

morning of May 26. The teachings were orallytranslated by Lama Yeshe Gyamtso.

To begin the session, please generate thepure motivation of bodhicitta, which is thethought that you will listen to the teach-

ings in order to be able to properly practice genu-ine dharma in order to be of benefit to all beingswho fill space.

I used to feel that, since students were mainlyinterested in, and experienced with, the practicesof tranquility and insight�shinay and lhaktong(shamatha and vipashyana, in Sanskrit)�thatdealing with these topics alone would be the mostbeneficial thing to do. And since the practices ofthe generation stage, the yidam* practices, areslightly unwieldy or complicated at first, andbecause the appearances of the deities, the maleand female deities, the peaceful and wrathfuldeities, in all their various costumes and withtheir scepters and their various appearances andso forth, are all a bit bewildering, and, therefore,since new students were usually not that inter-ested in this subject, I felt that I didn�t really needto address it. But since then I�ve come to feel that,while it is true that people have more interestinitially in tranquility and insight than they havein the generation stage, I think it is my responsi-bility to inform students about the generationstage in order to inspire some interest in it and sothat people will have some understanding of it.Therefore, I�m going to talk a bit about this today.

Many people feel or think the following: �I amnot a yidam. I am an ordinary person. Visualizingmyself as a deity, especially one with an abnormalnumber of faces, or a particularly large number ofarms, or a deity who is brilliant red or pure whitein color, seems quite useless to me. What is theuse of doing such a thing?� Well, in fact, suchpractices are extremely useful.

Of course, we are ordinary people, but at thesame time the basic nature of any ordinary personis the essence of the wisdom of all buddhas, whichin the sutras is called buddha nature and in thevajrayana is called the wisdom of the great perfec-tion, or the wisdom of mahamudra, and so on. Asthis is our basic nature, and always has been our

The Very Venerable Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche

The Tantric Pathand Mahamudra

By The Very VenerableKhenchen Thrangu Rinpoche

*Editor�s note: a personal diety, the practice of which bringsrealization of the natural state�the true nature of mind andthe true nature of reality

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Any of the manydeities usedin vajrayanameditation areused primarily topromote or bringout, throughidentificationwith them,qualities that areinnate in usalready

basic nature, visualizing oneself as a deity is notpretending to be what one is not, and it is notattempting to change what one fundamentally is.It is rather attempting to move towards a recogni-tion of what has always been there, and throughrecognizing it, to reveal its qualities.

In our present condition, buddha nature isobscured by various secondary or adventitiousstains which are present in our minds�mentalafflictions and cognitive obscurations�and thesehave to be removed in order to reveal our buddhanature. Now these can be removed graduallythrough the practice of meditation; and yet, it ismuch more effective to work with the actual modeof experience that we now undergo.Specifically, we experience atpresent a variety of impure appear-ances, what we could call internalimpure appearances�the experienceof kleshas and so forth within ourminds�and external impure ap-pearances. By viewing all of these asthe pure world of the deity, gradu-ally these impure appearances orprojections can be removed. It is forthat reason that we visualize themandala and forms of these deities.

In general, our practice of dharmaand our practice of meditation areconcerned with the realization ofemptiness or sunyata. Because ofthat, we may imagine that the ulti-mate result or the ultimate fruition ofour practice is some kind of absolutenothingness. We may imagine that buddhahood is astate of absolutely nothing. But this is not the case.The state of buddhahood, which is the result ofthese spiritual paths, in as far as the actual experi-ence of that buddha is concerned�what is called theself-experience or self-appearance of that buddha�is the dharmadhatu, which is utterly insubstantial,and in that sense is not an existing thing, but is, atthe same time, the radiance of that buddha�s wis-dom as it is experienced by that buddha. So it is theexperience of the dharmakaya or, otherwise put, thedharmadhatu.

Now the radiance of that buddha�s wisdom is

also experienced by others, and the experiencingof that buddha by others takes two principalforms. To those who have a pure mode of experi-ence, such as bodhisattvas, the buddha manifestsas what are called pure bodies and wisdoms�as apure or undiluted expression of that buddha�swisdom. So buddhahood is not nothing, because itis a radiant wisdom that manifests in the experi-ence of others as well.

To impure or ordinary beings, the buddhamanifests as nirmanakaya, as the body of emana-tion. So, fundamentally, the modes of manifesta-tion in the experience of others of a buddha arethe pure realms of the sambhogakaya, which are

experienced by bodhisattvas, andthe impure realms of thenirmanakaya, which are experi-enced by others who are ordinarybeings. What we are cultivatingin the practice of the generationstage is the experience of thesambhogakaya realms.

When we use the word�deity,� we think of somethingthat is very, very good indeedthat can help us�somethingthat can give us something thatwe don�t have that that deityhas and that we can get fromthat deity. This is not thevajrayana view or use of theconcept of deity.

Any of the many deities usedin vajrayana meditation are

used primarily to promote or bring out, throughidentification with them, qualities that are innatein us already. We merely use the technique ofworking with a deity to bring out or promote thesequalities. For that reason, while we do sometimesvisualize deities as separate from ourselves�forexample, while we do sometimes visualize deitiesin front of us for the accumulation of merit and soon�our principal mode of visualizing deities is tovisualize ourselves as these deities.

This visualizing is done in a precise manner. Italways begins with the recognition that our con-ventional mode of experience or appearances is

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the projection of our obscurations, our confusion,and, therefore, at the beginning we let go of all ofthis. We think that everything that we see and soforth subsides or dissolves into emptiness. Andthen, from within the expanse of emptiness, therewill usually be the visualization of the mind of thedeity arising in the form of either the seed syllableof that particular deity and/or possibly the scepter,which represents that specific deity, and thengradually from that the practitioner will arise inthe form of the deity�s body. Andwhen you arise in the form of thisvisualized deity, you think, �I amthis deity.� If it is a guru sadhana,you think, �I am this particularguru�; if it is a yidam practice,you think, �I am this particularyidam�; if it is a dharmapalapractice, you think, �I am thisparticular dharmapala.�

Aside from the ultimatebenefits of this kind of practice,which are the qualities ofbuddhahood, there are short-termbenefits as well, and these ensueeven with a relatively slightamount of practice. For example,a great deal of generation stage practice is con-cerned with actually visualizing various aspects ofthe deity�s appearance. You visualize the deity�sbody in general and in particular parts, the orna-ments or jewelry, the clothes, and so on. As you dothis, your mind is placed at rest on each of thesespecific points in turn; and the placement of yourmind at rest on these specific points of the visual-ization generates an excellent state of shinay ortranquility. In particular, because you are engagedin a detailed visualization�for example, you movefrom one detail to another of the deity�s physicalappearance, the details of the jewelry and cloth-ing, the scepters held in the hands, and so on�theinherent clarity of your mind is very muchbrought out and experienced. And so, the tranquil-ity that is generated, while it is a state of rest ortranquility, has no torpor or sunkenness to it.

Another aspect of some generation stagepractices is what is called the radiation and with-

drawal of light or rays of light. This usually takesthe form of brilliant rays of light shooting out fromthe seed syllable at the heart of the deity and thengradually being withdrawn back into it. Often thisradiation and withdrawal of light is connectedwith actually benefitting beings. For example,when performing this phase of the meditation, youmay begin by considering all of the pain andsuffering there is. Then you think that these raysof light fill the entire world and remove all of the

physical pain, poverty, sickness,ignorance, emotional misery, andso on, that afflict all beings. Thecolor of the rays of light will some-times correspond to the color of thedeity, such as yellow, red, white,whatever. Sometimes it will be offive colors, like a rainbow, and soon. In any case, you think thatthrough these rays of light youactually remove all the physicaland mental suffering of beings,and through doing that, that youestablish all beings in a state oflong-lasting happiness. In thatway, through this aspect of thegeneration stage, you can also

train your mind in the development of bodhicitta,and you can do so in such a way that you canactually start to instill in yourself a confidencethat you can benefit beings.

Also, when you are performing this meditationof the radiation and withdrawal of light rays, youcan think that the rays of light go to, or are pro-jected to, all pure realms, and that on the end ofeach ray of light are innumerable excellent offer-ings which are presented to all the buddhas andbodhisattvas who reside in these realms. And bymeans of this meditation you accumulate merit.*And then you can think that the rays of lightwhich have drawn into themselves the blessings ofall these buddhas and bodhisattvas are with-drawn back into your heart, by means of whichyou actually receive their blessings. And when youperform this meditation and generate the confi-

Because you areengaged ina detailedvisualization . . .the inherentclarity of yourmind is verymuch broughtout andexperienced

*Editor�s note: Merit is the positive karmic result ofvirtuous action.

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dence that you have actually received the bless-ings of these various buddhas and bodhisattvas,this produces a good experience of your mind, andwill very much enhance both the clarity andstability of either tranquility or insight practice.

Furthermore, the practice of the generationstage includes three fundamental elements,

which are called clear appearance or clarity ofappearance, stable pride, and recollection ofpurity. The first of these, clarity of appearance, isthe clear visualization of the form of the deity, andeven this alone will somewhat weaken your fixa-tion on a self. We constantly support or strengthenor reinforce our fixation on a selfwith thoughts of �my body,� �mymind,� and all those things withwhich we usually identify. Here, youare somewhat counteracting that byvisualizing yourself as a deity, who isnot who you normally regard yourselfto be. Furthermore, the deity�s form isnot conceived of as solid and substan-tial, but as vivid and yet utterlyinsubtstantial, the unity of lucidityand emptiness, like a rainbow. Thisvisualization alone will naturallyslightly weaken the fixation on a self.

When practicing visualizations,you also sometimes reflect upon thesecond point, which is stable pride.Stable pride is the recognition thatyou are not inventing something, you are notvisualizing something that is not already thereinherently, and, based on that, stable pride is thegeneration of the confidence, �I actually am thisdeity.� It is the confidence of being the deity andgetting into the actual feeling of being the deity,rather than merely visualizing the deity as astatic or dead image.

In order to enhance the pride of being thedeity, there exists the technique of invitation.From the three places�from the forehead, thethroat, and the heart of the deity�s body�rays ofwhite, red, and blue light radiate, and invite theactual deity from all the places where that deitymight be found.*And then this deity is brought in

and dissolves into you. The reason for this tech-nique is that you may have the attitude that youare visualizing yourself as the deity, but that it isjust a static image, and that the deity is reallysomewhere else. If you have that attitude, then bydoing this visualization you will become confidentthat this deity is actually within you, and that thevisualization is not merely a static image. This isa significant step in learning to transform theimpure mode of perception into a pure one.

The third technique when you are practicingthe stage of generation is the recollection of purity,which is fundamentally the recollection that thedeity�s form is not impure and substantial, that it

is not made of flesh and blood. Itis an utterly insubstantial andyet vivid embodiment of wisdom,and it arises like a rainbow inthe sky, as a spontaneous andinsubstantial unity of vividappearance and natural orinherent emptiness. Further-more, in connection with thisthird technique, there is therecognition that your mind, themind of the practitioner, is themind of the deity. Not only yourbody, but your mind is to beidentified with the deity, whichmeans that you let go of thethought that your mind consistsof impure kleshas and nasty

thoughts and so on. You simply generate theconfidence that your mind is fundamentally themind of the deity. Now if it is, for example, a gurupractice, then you think, �my mind is the mind ofthis guru.� If it is a yidam, you think, �my mind isthe mind of this yidam.� If it is a dharmapala, youthink, �my mind is the mind of this dharmapala.�And this confidence is legitimate, because that isthe nature of your mind. Recognizing that, you

The practice ofthe generationstage includesthreefundamentalelements: clearappearance,stable pride,and recollectionof purity

*Editor�s note. The deity will be found in her or his own pureland, in the mindstreams of all buddhas and bodhisattvas ofthe three times and ten directions, in the mindstreams of allthe other sources of refuge, in the physical support into whichthe diety is dissolved at the end of any given practice, and, ofcourse, ultimately in the mindstream of the practitioner.

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rest in that confidence. Resting in the confidencethat your mind is the mind of the deity is a power-ful way of enhancing your realization of insight orlhaktong.

Now all of this is true about any deity practice,and which particular deity it is makes compara-tively little difference in all of this. You could bemeditating upon Chakrasamvara, you could bemeditating upon Vajrayogini, you could be medi-tating upon Avalokiteshvara, you could be medi-tating upon Tara. In any case, what you areactually doing, the fundamental technique ofidentification with the visualization of the deity, isthe same. And all of these different elements are,and should be, present in the practice. Whetherthe liturgy is elaborate or short, and whether thevisualization is complicated or simple, does notchange the basic process of the generation stage.

In that way, then, the practice ofthe generation stage is really useful. It is

followed by the practice of the completion stage.The completion stage consists, most fundamen-tally, of tranquility and insight. Now, tranquility isimportant, but eventually it has to be followed bythe practice of insight, lhaktong.Insight depends, first of all,upon your devotion and yoursupplication.* Through repeateddevoted supplication, there canoccur a recognition of the natureof things, which is what we callinsight.

As far as actually practicinginsight meditation, it is slightlydistinct from the practice oftranquility. First of all, the gaze is a little differ-ent. In tranquility practice, you generally some-what lower your gaze. In insight practice, youraise your gaze above the horizontal, so that youare looking slightly upward. The reason for this isthat, by doing so, you promote the lucidity of yourmind, which is necessary for insight practice. Theactual meditation begins with tranquility practice.You allow your mind to come to rest in the state of

tranquility or stillness that you have cultivatedthrough practicing tranquility meditation. Thenyou look at it directly. You are not trying to ana-lyze it or to examine it conceptually. You are tryingto actually see it, see what it is like. You are tryingto see what is at rest. How is it at rest; what does�at rest� mean? What is this stillness? Where is itat rest? Is it inside your body, outside your body?Is it somewhere in particular? And the way youlook at this state of stillness, the way you look atyour mind within stillness, is almost like lookingat something physically with your eyes, in thesense that it is a direct experience, rather than anattempt to evaluate conceptually.

When you look at your mind, or you look foryour mind, you will not find anything there what-soever. No matter how you look, and no matterwhere you look, you won�t find anything. Andinitially, not finding anything, you are likely tothink either, �Well, I�ve mistaken the manner oflooking; I don�t know how to look; I�m looking inthe wrong way; it�s there but I�m not seeing it.� Oryou might think, �Well, I�m just not capable oflooking at it; I don�t have what it takes to find themind.� In fact, if you think these things, your

thinking is incorrect. The reasonyou don�t see the mind and thereason you don�t find the mind is notthat you don�t know how to look orthat it is too subtle for you to find.The reason that you don�t find themind is that there is nothing there.The mind exists nowhere. The mindabides nowhere. The mind has nosubstantial characteristics whatso-ever. And it is for this reason that

we call the nature of the mind emptiness ordharmadhatu. Now, when we say dharmadhatu�which means the expanse or space of all things�what is being implied is that dharmadhatu is atthe same time the nature of all things, not just thenature of the mind. However, practically speaking,the method is to look at this nature within themind, because you can directly experience, rightnow, your mind�s emptiness simply by looking atit. It is much more difficult to experience theemptiness of all things. Therefore, we use the

You can directlyexperience, rightnow, your mind�semptinesssimply bylooking at it

*Editor�s note: i.e. devotion to and supplication of the guru.

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mind as the technique for establishing this impor-tant understanding.

When we say that the mind is empty, we do notmean that it is an absolute nothingness. If wesimply say empty, then we might think that mindis like empty space, which is nothing whatsoever.Empty space is nothing whatsoever in the sensethat empty space has no cognitive lucidity. Emptyspace has no intelligence, no awareness. Your mindis nothing whatsoever in the sense that it has nosubstantial characteristics, it has no substantialexistence of any kind. And yet that nothingness, ifyou want to call it a nothingness, is at the sametime lucid. In fact, it is a cognitive lucidity, which isreferred to as the unity or sameness of lucidity andemptiness. And this is something thatyou can and will directly experiencethrough looking at your mind.

Yesterday, I described the eightconsciousnesses, and I said that it isthe sixth consciousness, the mentalconsciousness, that meditates. I alsosaid that the sixth consciousness isconceptual, which means that thesixth consciousness has the capacity toconceptualize. It also has the capacityto be nonconceptual. When you medi-tate, the sixth consciousness is turnedin on itself. It looks at itself. Normally,the sixth consciousness is outwardlydirected, and thinks about or concep-tualizes all sorts of things. But whenthe sixth consciousness is applied inthis technique of meditation by turn-ing in on itself and looking at itself, itlooks at itself in a nonconceptual way,and it experiences its own emptiness,its own lucidity, directly, rather thanthrough a veneer of conceptual estimation or evalu-ation. Now, this mode of direct experience is called,in the language of valid cognition, or the traditionalstudy of logic and cognition, yogic direct validcognition. It is a direct experience, so therefore, it iscalled a direct valid cognition. And it is a type thatoccurs in practice, and, therefore, is called yogicdirect valid cognition. So, even though this isperformed by the sixth consciousness, it is still a

nonconceptual and direct experience.Now, some people study quite a bit. If you are

one of those who has been studying quite a bit, or ifyou are one who may study quite a bit in the fu-ture, you may have, or will come into contact withreferences in the Buddhist tradition to the impossi-bility of the mind seeing itself. Specifically, inChandrakirti�s Madhyamika Avatara, and inShantideva�s Bodhisattvacaryavatara�and in thelatter text specifically in the ninth chapter, thechapter on the perfection of wisdom�we findstatements that the mind cannot see itself, andimages and reasons for this statement are given.Here, what is being given in these texts is a refuta-tion of subsantialist schools who assert that a

substantial mind can see itssubstantial self in the same way,for example, that our physicaleye actually sees something, avisual form, that appears to beout there.

Now, while seeing this state-ment in madhyamika texts�that the mind cannot see itself�you may wonder if it contradictsthe mahamudra tradition�sinjunction to allow your mind tolook at itself. In fact, it does not.Because what is being discussedin Chandrakirti�s andShantideva�s writings is thesubstantialist notion that asubstantial or truly existingmind can see itself as a substan-tially existent thing. And whenthe texts say that that is impos-sible, they are being completelyaccurate, of course. But, in this

context of meditation practice, when we say thatthe mind looks at itself or views its own nature,we�re not talking about a mind that has substantialexistence viewing itself and seeing or discoveringits substantial existence and substantial character-istics. We are talking about a mind of which thefundamental nature is emptiness, and of which theprimary characteristic is cognitive lucidity, lookingat itself and seeing its own emptiness, and, through

Your mindis nothingwhatsoever inthe sense thatit has nosubstantialcharacteristics,it has nosubstantialexistence of anykind. And yetthat nothingness. . . is at thesame time lucid

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being aware of that emptiness, recognizing its owncognitive lucidity, which is entirely different froma substantial thing seeing itself.

Question: Rinpoche, you said that the completionstage consists of tranquility and insight. WhenI�ve been doing my ngöndro practice, I might startthe practice session with shamatha-vipashyanapractice. And in the vipashyana practice, I prac-tice this kind of looking that you�re describing.Then there�s the generation of the visualization,the recitation of the mantra, the dissolving of thevisualization; and after that, what I rememberbeing instructed in was keeping the gaze up andout, but resting your mind in the aftertaste ofwhatever the practice was. So, for example, if it isthe Vajrasattva mantra, resting in that purity; ifit�s mandala, resting in the accumulation of meritand wisdom, and so forth. So I�m curious aboutwhat to do in that space after doing the visualiza-tion. And also, is the term completion stage syn-onymous with insight and tranquility? Is that justa vajrayana term that we use to describe them?

Rinpoche: Well, the practice of shamatha at thebeginning of a session of generation stages is goodbecause it relaxes your mind and enables you toperform the generation stage properly. The actualintention of a completion stage is the bringing ofthe mind to rest in a state of stable lucidity. Andthis could be resting in the aftertaste of the previ-ous generation stage experience, because that willhave the elements of clarity and stability in it. Orit could be resting in the direct experience of themind�s nature�whichever is appropriate for thespecific practitioner.

Mainly, when we say completion stage, we arereferring to insight, to lhaktong or vipashyana.But when beginners cannot recognize what is tobe experienced or meditated upon in insightmeditation, or they cannot rest in that longenough to actually practice it, then it is okay forthem to do shamatha or tranquility practice atthat point, and gradually develop that into thecompletion stage.

Question: Rinpoche, when we rest in a state of

tranquility and reflect on the mind, then whatdoesn�t seem to subside is a sense of locatedness tothat lucidity, to the clarity of just sitting with eyesopen. The experience of visual world, sound, andso on, all arise somewhere, or there�s a sense of itarising somewhere, which doesn�t fall away. Whatwould be a further step?

Rinpoche: In the beginning, when we practicethis, we experience a lot of fixation. First of all, itis important to recognize that the presence of thefive sense consciousnesses, or the functioning ofthe five sense consciousnesses, does not, in itself,in any way impair or compromise your mind�sbasic lucidity or clarity, because the five senseconsciousnesses in themselves and your mode ofexperience based on them does not entail concep-tual fixation in and of itself. However, throughhabit it is normal for us to experience our clarityas somehow centered on this perspective, thispoint of view, this specific location. This need notbe viewed as a threat to meditation practice; it issimply how you experience. But as you continue towork with the practice, the aspect of that experi-ence that is, in fact, a conceptually imposed fixa-tion will loosen and will fall away.

Question: Rinpoche, could you elaborate on theconcept that insight depends on supplication anddevotion? And I�m also interested in anythingRinpoche has to say on the mechanism of trans-mission from guru to disciple.

Rinpoche: Devotion is mainly confidence, and itrefers here to the confidence that there will be aresult from practicing this meditation. It is aconfidence that these instructions, derived fromthis teacher, will lead to this result. And it is thecertainty that, therefore, the process is valid. Ifyou lack this confidence, if you think, �I don�tknow if this is really going to do me any good orlead to anything,� then you�ll think, �What is thepoint in sitting still and staring off into space?� Ifyou have no confidence in the instructions and theteacher who gives the instructions, then whenthey say to you, �Look at your mind, look at yourmind,� you�ll think, �Aah! What good will that do?�

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And, as long as you take that attitude, that it�sprobably not going to do any good, it probably isnot going to do any good. And no realization willcome about. So for that reason, devotion, confi-dence, is very important. If you think, �well, thisperson realized this by doing this, and he�s taughtme how to do this, so, therefore, I can realize thisby doing this,� if you think that, then you will. Theconfidence will actually enable you to recognizeyour mind. So it is the confidence in the instruc-tions and, therefore, in your practice and, there-fore, in the teacher who gives it.

Transmission or pointing out is simply when ateacher knows exactly what to do, exactly whatinstructions to give, and the environment of theinstructions, and so on�exactly what to do tocause a particular student to recognize theirmind�s nature. So the essence of transmission isappropriateness.

Question: Rinpoche, you say that a substantialmind can not look at itself and see any substantialmind. But you said that that is not contradictorywith an insubstantial, lucid mind looking at itselfand seeing lucid emptiness. I want to get thisclear in my mind. Would you say that whatever itis that looks, that feels like a watcher, that hassome kind of awareness, looking at your mind,one�s mind, and seeing that it�s empty, and recog-nizing that because it is empty, that�s what givesrise to the lucidity�would you say that it is thelucidity that looks at that emptiness, and seeslucidity arising from that emptiness, therefore itsees, that whatever is looking at it recognizes thatwhatever is looking is, because it�s lucid, empty?Does that make sense?

Translator: If I understood your question, it�s quitesimple. Let me tell you what I asked him. When themind that is the unity of lucidity and emptinessrecognizes itself�that mind of lucidity and empti-ness�is it the lucidity aspect that recognizes?

Rinpoche: Yes. It is the aspect of clarity, of lucid-ity, that recognizes. But the lucidity mainly andinitially recognizes the emptiness, by not experi-encing anything. The cognitive lucidity, or we

could simply say, the cognition, sees the empti-ness, and through recognizing the emptiness,through there being recognition, recognizes thatthat emptiness is cognition.

Question: Therefore, if I had experienced this, Icould think, �Because there is emptiness, andlucidity arises out of that emptiness, then thislucidity, which is looking at that emptiness, whichI take to be a �me,� is actually empty. Because I seelucidity arising from emptiness, then this luciditythat sees it is empty.�

Rinpoche: Well, following upon that recognitionyou would not take the lucidity to be a self, becausethe very recognition would have been the recogni-tion of that lucidity�s emptiness or insubstantiality,which is also its nonselfness, its nonselfhood. Be-cause our fixation on a self is based on the misappre-hension of something existing, the recognition ofnothing having substantial existence would contra-dict or contravene that.

Question: Okay. And so would you say that itwould take this doing, recognizing that over andover again, to take away this misapprehension ofselfhood, because we come right back to thinking,acting as if we are a self?

Rinpoche: Well, it�s a process of gradually in-creasing the intensity and stability of the recogni-tion that correspondingly weakens and finallyeliminates fixation on a self.

Question: Okay. But you gain faith that it�spossible by just having that one experience?

Rinpoche: Yes..

Question: Okay. Thank you very much.

Question:. Could you please explain what youmeant by �torpid tranquility?� My instinct sayssome kind of laziness or dullness.

Translator. Dullness. The word torpor is like theword sleepy, or dull. Why don�t we ask Rinpoche to

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define the Tibetan word?

Rinpoche: The fundamental meaning of the termjingwa, which literally means �sunkenness,� andcomes from a verb which means �to sink,� like tosink into quicksand�the fundamental meaning ofit is a mental state in which any clarity in yourmind is sunk, and so there�s no manifest clarity atall, and the mind is very dull. Or torpid.

Question: And could you say the Tibetan word?

Rinpoche: jingwa.

Translator: Rinpoche�s saying that the actualpronunciation will vary between areas. Somewould say jingwa, some would say singwa, somewould say shingwa, all for the same word.

June 8-16 Seattle

See Page 5 for details.

June 16-July 1 British Columbia

Weekend Seminar, June 20 & 21Victoria Shambala CenterContact: Kerry Crofton,250-383-9108 [email protected]

Mahamudra Seminar, June 24-28Karma Tekchen ChölingContact: Ping Yau, 604-264-1383or [email protected]

Teaching, June 30Vancouver Shambala CenterContact: Juanita Evans,604-683-6722 [email protected]

For additional scheduling,contact Ping Yau

July 1-12 Toronto

Pema Vajra Empowerment andTeaching, Karma Kagyu Centreof Toronto, Lama NamseContact: Shelley Shakespeare,416-588-4528 [email protected] or PaulFanning, [email protected]

July 14-28 Nova ScotiaShambala Center, July 14-16HalifaxContact: Moh Hardin,902-420-1118 or [email protected]

Teaching monastics andretreatants, July 18-26,Gampo Abbey

Contact: Sharon Keegan,902-224-2752 [email protected]

July 30-Aug. 10 New England

Program in Portland, MaineContact: Nancy Phillips,207-773-4154 or Bill Lawless,[email protected]

Aug. 13-31 Germany

Aug. 14-18, Freiburg

Inauguration and teaching,Aug. 20-24, HalscheidMahamudra Retreat Center

Aug. 26-27, Heidelberg (notconfirmed)

Weekend course, Aug. 28-30,Tashi Chöling, Frankfurt

Contact (for all of the above):Hort Rauprich, Karma KagyuVerein, 49-(0)2256-7005 [email protected]

December 1998 Idyllwild, California

Mahamudra Retreat (notscheduled yet)Contact: Lee Miracle,909-659-3401 or [email protected]

Schedule coordinator, Gloria Jones, secretary toThrangu Rinpochec/o Thrangu Tashi ChölingP.O. Box 1287Kathmandu, NepalPhone: 977-1-472024Fax: 977-1-471902 or 472927email: [email protected]

Thrangu Rinpoche’s Schedule Through August 31, 1998

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8-10 a.m.Guru Rinpoche practice

10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Formless sitting meditation and teaching (guidedmeditations on emptiness based on the chantingof the verses of Nagarjuna and Götsangpa taughtby The Venerable Khenpo Tsultrim GyamtsoRinpoche at KSOC in June of l997, led by LamaTashi Namgyal; question and answer session atend of meditation.

1:30-3:00 p.m.Chenrezig practice


9-11 a.m.Chenrezig practice

11:30 a.m.-2:00 p.m.Formless sitting meditation and teaching (LamaTashi is currently teaching the Bodhicaryavatara,in English, The Way of the Bodhisattva, byShantideva, as freshly translated by thePadmakara Translation Group.)


New KSOC Meditationand Class Schedule

Would You Like to Transcribe?

It is said in the dharma that the greatest actof generosity is to give the dharma, because it is

by understanding and practicing the dharma that,in the short run, our lives are improved and weenjoy greater happiness, and, in the long run, weare liberated entirely from suffering and its causesand are then able to be of great benefit to others.If there are any among our readers who would liketo contribute to Shenpen Ösel�s efforts to make thedharma available to practitioners by transcribing,please let us know. You would need to have accessto a computer that is wired for e-mail and a tran-scribing machine, but it wouldn�t matter where inNorth America you live. We can send you thetapes and you can attach your finished product toan e-mail message and send it to us. Transcribingis a very good way to learn the dharma and be ofbenefit to others at the same time.

On page 63 of the last issue of Shenpen Ösel inthe section, In the next issue of Shenpen

Ösel, we inadvertently omitted the title of respect,�Rinpoche,� behind Khenpo Tsultrim GyamtsoRinpoche�s name.

On page 59, in the ninth line down in the mainbody of the text, rig, which refers to the uncondi-tioned true nature of mind, the intrinsic, primordi-ally pure awareness that completely transcends thefunctioning of mind, should read rigs, which meansreasonings or the power of reasoning.

On page 59, second line from the bottom of theTibetan text, chos, meaning dharma, should readchod, meaning to cut.

On page 17, in the editor�s note, �living in adark age,� which in other contexts can refer to atime of the five degenerations, here specificallyrefers to an age in which a buddha has not ap-peared, attained enlightenment, and taught thedharma. In this context, so long as the teachings ofthe dharma still exist and are properly taught, weare not living in a dark age. The five degenerationsare 1) the degeneration of the times, meaning that

the outer events of the world are becoming worsein terms of social unrest, warfare, crime, etc.; 2)the degeneration of beings, meaning that themindstreams of beings are becoming coarser; 3)the degeneration of length of life, meaning that,taking a very long view, the length of life ofbeings is growing shorter; in this context, accord-ing to Buddhist cosmology, at the beginning ofthis kalpa human beings could live 80,000 years,whereas at the time of the Buddha Shakyamuni�sbirth, a human being was said to be able to liveonly 100 years; 4) the increase in the emotionalafflictions in the minds of beings, which means adegeneration of mental stability; and 5) thedegeneration of view, which means that people�sunderstanding of reality and their basic outlookis growing farther and farther from the truth. Inthe context of these five degenerations we arenow living in a dark age.

On page 13, in the first line of the secondcomplete paragraph in left-hand column, ngegyuand nge should read nyegyu and nye.


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In the past we have sent Shenpen Ösel on a complimen-tary basis to a rather large audience of Buddhists with

the hope that it would find an audience of readers whowould like to receive edited transcripts of recognized andqualified Buddhist teachers, and would in turn be willingto help support our efforts financially either by subscrib-ing or through direct donation. We have sent the maga-zine to our own mailing list of people who have attendedprograms sponsored by Kagyu Shenpen Ösel Chöling, theSeattle Shambala Center, and the Karma Kagyu StudyGroup of Seattle; to the entire Northwest Dharma Newsmailing list; to the list of participants in the AwakeningMind retreat sponsored by Kagyu Changchub Chuling inPortland; to the entire mailing list of Karma MahasiddhaLing in Idyllwild, CA; to the entire mailing list of KagyuThubten Chöling in Wappingers Falls, NY; and, in varyingquantities, to every Kagyu dharma center we could findon the worldwide web.

As a consequence we have received many wonderfuland enthusiastic responses, and many people havesubscribed and donated to Shenpen Ösel, for which we arevery grateful.

Beginning with this issue, we are no longer sendingfree issues of Shenpen Ösel to everyone on the NorthwestDharma News mailing list, and beginning with the nextissue, we will no longer be sending free issues to everyoneon the Kagyu Thubten Chöling mailing list. In ceasing todo so we are motivated by financial considerations and byour wish not to send the magazine to those who mightsimply toss it.

So, if you would like to continue to see Shenpen Öselin your mail box, and would like to help keep us inbusiness, please do not hesitate another instant tosubscribe and/or donate. Arise now and look for yourcheckbook, and send us a subscription or donation check.There is no time like the present for getting things done.Please help us to be able to continue to provide thisservice for the dharma community.

As you know, all of the time and energy that goes intorecording, transcribing, editing, laying out, addressing,and mailing Shenpen Ösel is entirely voluntary, and soyour subscriptions and contributions are used solely tocover printing and mailing costs.

We have received many requests for back issues ofShenpen Ösel, and we are happy to send them, except,since we have to photocopy them when we don�t have anyleft in print, and because we have to send them firstclass, they are relatively expensive to send. So, if youwould like back issues and can afford it, please enclose acontribution of $5.00 for the first copy, and at least $3.00for each additional copy. Also, please feel free to makeyour own copies, if you like. Thank you very much.

May there be virtue and happiness, and may every-thing be auspicious! Sarva Mangalam!


Page 64: The Tantric Path and Mahamudra


Kagyu Shenpen Ösel Chöling4322 Burke Ave. N.Seattle, WA 98103




�Nagarjuna prostrates to theBuddha because the Buddhais the one who taught thetruth of dependent arising. �

�The Very VenerableKhenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche